Many 7th and 8th grade Rogers Park boys had an eventful day on Monday, January 21st, Martin Luther King Day, as Sullivan High School, Friends of Sullivan and the Chicago Park District co-hosted Sullivan High School’s First Middle School Invitational Basketball Tournament.
With Sullivan’s gym in the midst of remodeling, Willye B. White Field House at 1610 W. Howard hosted the competition, fielding four local schools: Joyce Kilmer Elementary School, Gale Community Academy, Jordon Elementary Community School and Cruz Acero School.
First round games pitted Kilmer against Acero and Jordan against Gale, with Kilmer and Gale prevailing.
In the consolation game, Jordan defeated Acero, leaving the championship game pitting Gale against Kilmer.
In the hard fought game, Kilmer prevailed, 49 - 38, resulting with them winning the coveted title as champion of the First Sullivan Rogers Park Middle School Invitational.
Norman Polk, who organized the tournament along with Michael Glasser (Friends of Sullivan) and Thomas “Bud” Sanders (Willye B. White), with organizational assistance from Wayne Frazier from Alderman Moore’s office, was pleased with the results.
“We are happy with the participation - all teams came loaded with energy; the crowd, consisting of many parents and siblings, enthusiastic, and we received positive feedback with the parents.
Kilmer Eighth Grader Ramon Randolph was also thrilled. “Today was our day off. This tournament gave us something exciting and fun to do. And, best of all, we won!”
Following the first round of games, all students and several coaches and parents participated in a Martin Luther King Day workshop, where the students had a chance to discuss the meaning of Dr. King and the relevancy of this holiday.
Later youth leader and community poet Dan McNeal read a poem he had written about basketball and the importance for young black men to find their passion. He later demonstrated his passion: playing the drums, and his brief performance entertained many of the youth.
Prior to the opening games, some met Sullivan Varsity Coach Julian Williams and learned more about Sullivan’s Boy’s basketball, the team, the Tigers, enjoying an undefeated season. Hearing about exciting changes at this vastly improving school, several 8th graders expressed their interest in attending Sullivan next year.
All players received bright yellow tournament T-Shirts, and quickly devoured pizza following the trophy ceremony.
Thrilled with the outcome and seeing the kids so happy, Friends of Sullivan Board member Dr. Nora Rowley, who attended the event and lead one of the MLK team discussions, offered words that should prove to be prophetic. “Today we started a new Rogers Park tradition. We intend to throw this Martin Luther King Day tournament every year on from now on, making it bigger and better!"
Friends of Sullivan, a 501(c)3 organization (status pending) whose mission, in part, is to assist Sullivan High School and other local schools with extracurricular activities and other capital needs projects, funded the tournament.
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