INDIANAPOLIS — A local organization is working to bring people together and enhance community development through basketball.
The City League is hosting a tournament with some notable Indiana players.
“Between our men and our women we will have 44 Division I players, 19 former Indiana All-Stars, three Miss Indiana Basketball,” Austin Taylor, Executive Director of The City League said. The games will be played primarily on Wednesday and Thursday nights over the next few weeks. The players compete for cash prizes and admission is free for the public.
“In Indiana, basketball is a big part of our culture. It is something we invest a lot of time and energy into and in return we get a lot of energy back and so we believe that if we can find a way to steer that energy in a positive direction that we can do a lot of good,” Taylor said.
That is why organizers are using the tournament to hold community engagement activities as well. Activities this year will include things like a job fair, financial literacy class, and youth mobile photography class.
“Sometimes communities like this don't have the support and the energy behind them and so if we can kind of build off of some of the successes we've had to kind of bring it back to these communities to help promote education and commerce and help people thrive then we're all about it,” said Brian Phillips, a sponsor of The City League and Founder of The Basement, a marketing and advertising agency in Indianapolis.
"Our community needs a lot of different things to do for the youth to keep them off the streets and you know we've got a lot of violence in our city…it gives them something. Most young people enjoy basketball so what better thing to do then go see basketball players that you've seen on college and professional levels on television, now you can come in in your own neighborhood watch them play every week,” Damon White, an Indianapolis resident and City League fan said.
White can be found at almost every game each year and said he likes to bring his son with him.
The City League was started in 2013 and for the first time this year there will be a women’s tournament, too.
“There are so many great names that have come out of Indianapolis for basketball on the women's side that have kind of gone to the shadows, but this is a time to come out on the court and bring those names back to light and then again inspire the younger generation,” said Maddie McConnell, Co-Founder of The City League’s women’s tournament, Queens of the Court.
The games will be played at the Boner Fitness and Learning Center on the Arsenal Tech High School campus. Games are Wednesdays from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Thursdays from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. They begin this Wednesday, June 30.
The championship for both men and women will take place on Thursday, August 12 and will be broadcast on the ISC Sports Network and at The Garage Food Hall at Bottleworks in downtown Indy.
For more information about The City League, visit their website here.