Drive by Highland Park on any Tuesday or Friday,
and one can feel the positive vibe all the way on the street.
This year, The Movement basketball league
has grown bigger than ever, with more sponsors, more players, more volunteers,
and the positive energy that everyone hoped for when the league started four
years ago in the wake of the Pablo Villeda murder, and associated shootings, on
“There are more players and we’re growing
bigger and building that community that we hoped for,” said Damali Vidot, who
is the president of the league and of the City Council. “We have more than 100
kids this year and we have a waiting list too. It’s the most participation
we’ve ever had. It’s just really great to see that any Tuesday or Friday when
you drive by Highland Park and there are so many people at the at the
basketball court. The kids get it; they know it’s more than just basketball.
They play with passion and are so respectful.”
The league consists of eight teams, with
sponsors such as State Rep. Dan Ryan, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, Congresswoman
Ayanna Pressley, Century 21 and William Vaquerano. Most of the sponsors come
down for the games, she said, as they are interested in seeing how the league
Right now, they are in their sixth week of
games, with four games left. They will have a big playoff event in the coming
weeks that Vidot said they hope will be a big community celebration.
out to that age group – particularly those who weren’t misguided, but maybe
getting influenced by bad things. Now that it has become so popular, Vidot said
they are attracting all of that age group in Chelsea and beyond to Highland
Park twice a week.
It was what they hoped for.
“We’re all there to have a good time, and
kids don’t just come to play basketball,” she said. “They stay and hand out and
they build relationships with coaches and with me and with other players. These
are relationships that last beyond the summer so that even outside the season
they feel like they can talk to a coach or one of the other players about a
problem they are having. It’s definitely got that vibe.”
This year, Vidot said they have celebrated
the first female coach, as well as the first coach who came back after “aging
out” as a player.
“The idea was always to pass the baton, and
we’re seeing kids come back to coach this year after having been players in the
past,” she said. “We wanted this to get passed on to those kids so that it’s
self-sustaining. We’re already starting to see some of that.”
The Movement starts at 6 p.m. in Highland Park
every Tuesday and Friday, with games lasting until about 10 p.m.
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