Sweep the Street’s double-elimination men’s tournament will be held Aug. 6 and 7 at the Coleman Memorial Park, 1400 West Maple St.
The nonprofit will also hold a special tournament for teams of high school players on July 13 at the South 6th Street Playground, 512 South 6th St.
“It’s kind of like a Lebanon local holiday that weekend,” George “Gzo” Rodriguez, co-founder of Sweep the Streets, said. “All the hotels are sold out. Restaurants are busy. Teams from all over are staying here. We usually get anywhere from 500 to 900 spectators throughout the weekend.”
Originally a one-day tournament with 10 teams, Sweep the Streets has grown into a two-day event with 16 teams.
This is the second year that the tournament will be at Coleman. Previously, the tournament was at the Walnut Street Park.
Sweep the Streets started because “we wanted to bring a Rucker Park basketball feel to little Lebanon,” Rodriguez said. “And we wanted to be able to take men off the streets and onto the basketball courts.”
The event takes months to organize, from scouting referees and players to planning jersey sizes and colors, to ordering MVP trophies and rings, to selecting the music that will be played, to coordinating vendors and volunteers for trash pickup, to obtaining insurance and permits.
The nonprofit puts its slogan, “turning obstacles into opportunities,” into practice — on and off the court.
“We mentor (kids that are expelled or suspended) and get them back into school,” Rodriguez said.
The nonprofit’s co-founder continued to talk about his experience watching players who once competed in the youth summer and winter leagues now compete in the men’s league.
“We’re able to see what basketball does and how much it influences the kids,” he said. “You see them now as grown men and the respect level is there, the community is there, the love is there. The growth, I would say, is the most important thing.”
Between tournaments, the nonprofit stays in touch with its youth and male players via its Facebook page and the Lebanon School District.
“This will be the most competitive year we’ve had ever. I think I say that every year because I feel like that every year. But this year, definitely,” Rodriguez said. “We have some D1 players. … We have some LVC graduates. We have local stars.”
Amid the busyness of planning and the anticipation of competition, Rodriguez dreams of installing lights at the Coleman courts and playing Sweep the Streets championship games under them.
Christman’s Funeral Home, at 226 Cumberland St., is sponsoring this year’s tournament.
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Editor’s Note: After this article was published, the location of the July 13 tournament was moved to the South 6th Street Playground from Coleman Memorial Park. We have updated our article accordingly.