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For the Love of the Game - Hoops in the Hood Kicks Off 13th Season

Mikaela Blackwell
Hoops in the Hood youth at the 2018 Cross-City Tournament
Hoops in the Hood youth at the 2018 Cross-City Tournament

“Nothing can beat the love I have for this program,” said Raul Ruiz, who joined Hoops in the Hood at the age of 13 as part of St. Michael's located in Chicago’s Back of the Yards Neighborhood. Five years later, he’s now coaching in the same league. “There's not one summer I haven't been a part of the Hoops program since I joined. It saved me from a lot of mischief growing up and played a huge role in my development as an individual.”

For hundreds of youth across Chicago like Raul, Hoops in the Hood is more than just a weekly basketball game leading up to the championship in August; it is a tradition and an opportunity to be part of something special.

With Hoops in the Hood season upon us, anticipation, emotion and gratitude begin to stir within Chicago neighborhoods. Hoops in the Hood was launched by community leaders more than a decade ago as a response to Chicago’s violence by providing kids with a safe place to play basketball and engage in other organized activities with caring adults and their peers. Every summer Hoops in the Hood becomes increasingly significant as new relationships are formed, victories are won, and lifelong memories are created.

This June, Hoops in the Hood will enter its 13th season with 17 neighborhood partners including:

ABC Pilsen, Annie B. Jones - Shoring UP Hope, Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Build, Inc., Claretian Associates, Near West Side CDC, New Life Centers of Chicagoland, Northwest Side Housing Center, Project H.O.O.D., Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), Teamwork Englewood, The Ark of St. Sabina, The Community Builders and UCAN.

New to the program in 2019 are Hands Around The Hundreds (in the Roseland community) and Project Education Plus (in the Cabrini Green community). Click here for the schedule of events for all 17 community partners.

Hoops in the Hood offers one community-driven effort to complement Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s comprehensive and strategic plan to strengthen public safety in Chicago neighborhoods. This program has established not only victory for a team or neighborhood, but an undeniable embracement of love among teammates and coaches, a deterrent from violence that continues to perpetrate Chicago’s streets and a reminder to athletes that they matter.

“Hoops gave me a chance to play against people in my neighborhood at a place I knew I was safe. It’s nice to have something productive to do over the summer. I have fun playing basketball in the hood with my friends,” said Lawrence Goodman who participates in The Ark of St. Sabina’s Hoops in the Hood program in Auburn Gresham. “The tournament downtown is the best part. I can't wait for me and my homies to go back this year."

Sponsors and supporters of the event include long-time partner State Farm, the Chicago Park District, PepsiCo and Peoples Gas. A new partnership with Cheesie’s Pub & Grub will provide special promotions all summer to benefit Hoops in the Hood athletes and participants including a 10% discount at the Lakeview location by saying the word “Hoops” at checkout any Sunday from June 30, 2019 through Sunday, August 18, 2019.

“This truly is a partnership and commitment to community organizations who are addressing youth engagement and violence prevention. And, Hoops in the Hood is the most cost-effective youth engagement program anyone could run. It costs $100,000 to impact 5,000 kids in 17 Chicago neighborhoods.”
— LISC Chicago’s Executive Director, Meghan Harte

“It doesn’t take a lot of money to engage good people to help neighborhoods grow,” Harte said.

Dedication to and a passion for change are universally exhibited by all who contribute and it shines through people like Raul, who shared, “Hoops in the Hood has opened doors for me, I've met a lot of people through this program, and I've had so much fun along the way.” 

The 13th Annual Hoops in the Hood Cross-City Tournament will take place on Saturday, August 17, 2019 on Columbus Dr. between Balbo and Roosevelt – Games kick off at 10:00 a.m.!

If you want to support the Hoops in the Hood program please click here. $25 supports a Chicago youth for the entire summer.