Nevin Park 3-on-3 tournament draws healthy competition
on October 26, 2011
Basketball players and enthusiasts at Nevin Park faced high stakes this Saturday as they entered the community center’s 3-on-3 tournament. Mark Chandler, a tournament coordinator, explained the game’s rules to the group of more than 25 participants: 5 fouls, no arguing and no fighting.
Sergeant Eddie Russell joined the huddle, “This tournament is for you,” Russell said. “Play hard and play smart so that we can do this again next year.”
As the crowd began to dissipate, Richmond Rockets coach Lamar Baker added an extra incentive. “The Rockets are looking for one more player,” Baker said. “I am looking for someone now. I got one slot. Play hard.”
Live music from the event’s sponsor, Bread of Life Outreach Ministries, boomed as players took to the court. Meanwhile, guests wandered between a slew of tournament-dedicated activities: a bicycle raffle, a jolly jump, two free meals.
Minister Michelle La Flue helped bring together the more than 10 community groups that worked booths and helped sponsor the event. As she greeted guests and coordinated operations she thanked God for the day’s tournament.
“The greater purpose of the 3-on-3 tournament is to save souls that can only be saved through Jesus Christ,” she said.
Dr. Connie Portero, chair of Richmond’s Parks and Recreation Commission, helped provide breakfast for event attendees and also gave away more than 50 bags of fresh produce.
Portero said events like the 3-on-3 tournament are important for uniting the community and letting youth know that the community values their voices.
She also added that she hoped this event might help diffuse cultures of violence in Richmond. “We wanted to bring youth together so that they can see, and the community can see, that they can work together and play together,” she said.
Sergeant Russell and fellow police officers moderated by the sidelines as the day unfolded, trying to keep the mood positive.
Although the turnout was lower than in past years, Mark Chandler, who works as a basketball coach and youth mentor in Richmond, said the smaller numbers turned out for the better. “We were able to shift the tournament from single elimination to double elimination,” Chandler said. “They got a second chance. That’s what life is about. They should all have a second chance.”
In the end, “The Winners,” a team who lost their first round game, pushed back to take first place.
And, although the Richmond Rockets did not end up choosing the next addition to their semi-professional team, “The Winners” and the second place team left with shining trophies and tickets to see the Oakland Raiders.
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