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Hoops tourney tries to quell drugs, violence at Roosevelt park
Rosemary Ohene says basketball has motivated her son, Curtis Jenkins, a junior guard at Farmingdale High School, to do well in school and has improved his self-confidence.
Ohene said her son “knows if his school grades are not up, then he’s out of the sports. I had to take him out last year but he stepped up and came back.”
That hard work, on and off the court, has paid off.
On Sunday, Jenkins, 15, of North Amityville, led his team to a championship win at the seventh annual Roundball Classic Basketball Tournament at Centennial Park in Roosevelt. Jenkins was named the competition’s most valuable player.
It’s the kind of story Nassau County Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) hopes to see more of from kids who frequent Centennial, which is notorious for violence and drugs.
Abrahams, in conjunction with the Roosevelt Police Athletic League, started the tournament in 2006 as part of an effort to bring positive messages to the park and the community.
“The park should be a safe haven for people to go without the fear of stuff that goes on there,” said Jim Pastier, head coach of Farmingdale High School’s team. Farmingdale, which lost the Roundball Classic last year in the finals to Harborfields High School, beat Uniondale High School 55-37 to take the championship Sunday.
The Roundball Classic has grown over the years to include more teams, along with tennis and golf clinics.
This year, the weekend-long contest was held for only one day at the park due to rain. On Sunday, the weather forced it indoors to the Hicksville Athletic Center.
Abrahams and Gary Boulanger, officer director of the Roosevelt PAL, said they would like to see the event expanded even further to include additional sports, as well as girls and younger age groups.
However, the event does not receive government funding, and Abrahams said that finding volunteers has always been tough.
“We’ve got a small group of people doing the work of maybe a hundred,” Abrahams said, adding, “The more events we sponsor that are positive, the less negative things can happen.“
Above: The seventh annual youth basketball league Roundball Classic was held Sunday at the Hicksville Recreation Center. Curtis Jenkins, 15, of North Amityville, was named the tournament MVP. Pictured from left: Gary Boulanger, officer director of the Roosevelt PAL; Jenkins' mother, Rosemary Ohene; Jenkins; Nassau County Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport). (July 13, 2012)