FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Newark, NJ – March 7, 2011 - Mayor Cory A. Booker and Neighborhood and Recreational Services Director James Souder announced today that the City of Newark is opening registration for boys aged 18 and under for the 2011 Mayor’s Basketball Tournament, which will be held from April 19 to April 21, 2011 at the John F. Kennedy Recreation Center, located at 211 West Kinney Street, with the entrance on Howard Street. Games will start at 9 a.m. and continue until the schedule is complete.
“This annual basketball tournament is the kind of action we want all of Newark’s youth to enjoy,” Mayor Booker said. “I commend our dedicated recreation team for organizing this event, which is one of several programs, like our Let’s Move! Newark campaign, which we are offering to engage our youth in wholesome activities. These programs will promote their health and well-being, while defeating childhood obesity. I encourage all of our residents to support our youth as they take it to the hoop and manifest their excellence on the courts of the JFK Recreation Center.”
The deadline to register for the tournament is March 31, 2011. There will be no exceptions. Organizations and groups can only enter one team per group. Eight teams in each age category will be the maximum limit, for a total of 24 teams. The tournament is timed to coincide with the spring recess from Newark Public Schools.
“The Mayor’s Basketball Tournament gives our youth a positive, wholesome activity during their spring break that helps them build strong minds, strong bodies, and teaches them valuable life lessons about competition and sportsmanship. I congratulate the entire Recreation team on developing and operating this program,” said Director Souder.
“I look forward to the Mayor’s Basketball Tournament each year. I’ve been involved with the tournament since 1999 and each year the excitement grows. I enjoy watching the teams compete against each other. I’m looking forward to this year’s tournament,” said Tia D. Montigue, the Program Coordinator for the Division of Recreation/Cultural Affairs.
The tournament is played on the JFK Recreation Center’s NBA-regulation size basketball court and will consist of eight teams in each of the following three categories:
• Males 12 & under
• Males aged 13-14
• Males aged 15-18
Last year 41 teams competed in the tournament, and 24 are expected to play this year.
“It’s fun to get these kids together from the recreation centers to compete,” said Akima Stocks, coach of the Hard Rock team, which consists of 12 boys aged 15-17, drawn from public and private high schools across the City. The team won its age-group championship in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010. She attributes her success to the team. “Kids who play for different high schools get an opportunity to play together on this team and in this tournament. The kids are hard workers. I don’t start with them until their high school seasons are done, and we start practicing two weeks prior to the tournament. We put a lot of hard work into a very short time. The kids are already good. The practices are to get them to play together, as a team,” she said.
The tournament is the beginning for the Hard Rock team’s summer season, competing in Amateur Athletic Union action in the region. “The mayor’s tournament sets the tone for the summer. It gets them into the competition and in shape for the summer action,” Ms. Stocks added. “Besides basketball, there’s a togetherness thing. Basketball is more than the spirit of playing and getting in shape. After practice, we cook out together, and everyone has a job at the cookouts. It’s getting kids to become a family. Anyone on the team will tell you that.” She added that some of the team’s players do not actually play on their high school teams, as they have jobs after school. Players have to maintain a 2.0 GPA or better to get on or stay on the team. “All but three of my kids have gone on to college. Some of them played for Rutgers and are just graduating from Rutgers now,” she said.
The Tournament is sponsored by the Department of Neighborhood and Recreational Services’ Division of Recreation/Cultural Affairs. For more information, contact Tia D. Montigue, Division of Recreation/Cultural Affairs, at (973) 733-6456.
The health and well-being of Newark’s residents is a priority for the Booker Administration. At his Fourth Annual State of the City Address on February 9, 2010, the Mayor announced that he will serve as National Co-Chair of First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to fight childhood obesity.
Recreation has been a major priority for the Booker administration. Since 2006, each of the City’s recreation centers has had a comprehensive rehabilitation. After millions of dollars of capital investment, every city Recreation facility and pool has been upgraded and is now open for expanded programs and community use. In addition, City programming at recreation centers has been expanded. Residents can now access a full catalogue of recreation and cultural programs and services.
The John F. Kennedy Recreation and Aquatic Center is the City’s largest such facility, offering Newark residents of all ages a wide variety of daily recreation, exercise, and swimming programs. The facility features a multi-purpose exercise room, an NBA-regulation size basketball court, a state-of-the-art weight room and the only indoor/outdoor Olympic-size swimming pool in the State equipped with a retractable roof. The John F. Kennedy Recreation and Aquatic Center has hosted numerous events, including the 2002 U.S. Youth Games Swimming competition, professional wrestling matches, a variety of exercise classes, amateur boxing bouts, basketball tournaments and other community functions.
For more information about all Division of Recreation/Cultural Affairs or any other City of Newark program or policy, contact the Non-Emergency Call Center at (973) 733-4311.