Southwest Organizing Project Hosts ‘Hoop, Don’t Shoot’ Basketball Tournament in Gage Park

Teams go head-to-head at Southwest Organizing Project’s “Hoop, Don’t Shoot” basketball tournament on Tuesday, January 30, 2024 at St. Clare Gym in Gage Park.

Players laced up their gym shoes and enjoyed an evening of friendly competition as Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) hosted “Hoop, Don’t Shoot,” a basketball tournament in partnership with St. Rita Church and Chicago Cares. The event took place on Tuesday, January 30, 2024 at St. Clare Gym in Gage Park.

The tournament brought in six teams, with players ranging in ages from 13 to 24. The event was part of Light in the Night, a Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P) program aimed at reclaiming public spaces.

While the incentive to come out on top included cash prizes and bragging rights for the winning team, SWOP Senior Case Manager Armando Mancilla said the real victory goes far beyond.

“This is an essential part of the programming that we do. Many of the kids here, we wonder where they would be at if we didn’t have this gym open,” said Mancilla, who took the lead in organizing the event. “We want to let them know there’s a lot of other adults who want to keep positive role models near them.”

“[…] We want to make sure there’s a way to engage the youth and check their needs.”

Players and attendees watching from the sidelines enjoyed free tacos and drinks throughout the evening. They also received more information about SWOP and other local services from a resource table stationed in the gym.

SWOP Assistant Program Director Calvin Brown had a hand in establishing the rules for the tournament and picking the players. He emphasized the importance of such events, as they offer participants an outlet for fellowship and support.

“These young men could be getting into anything. We want to give them something to do and offer them mentorship. A lot of them don’t have that,” Brown said. “This is our way of bonding with them, mentoring them, and we get to get close to them and see what they need, outside of playing basketball.”

Some upcoming programming from SWOP includes a Women’s Appreciation Day in March and their third annual Mothers Against Violence event in May.

SWOP is one of 13 Chicago organizations representing CP4P, a coalition of non-profit organizations focused on gun violence prevention across 27 Chicago neighborhoods.

To learn more about upcoming Light in the Night events, check the calendar here.