Sweep the Streets’ 16-team, double-elimination men’s tournament is lined up for Aug. 5 and 6 at Coleman Memorial Park, 1400 W. Maple St.
Tip-off will be at 11 a.m., and the games will wrap around 4 p.m. each day.
In anticipation of the 16th annual men’s tournament, George “G-zo” Rodriguez, co-founder of Sweep the Streets, shared with LebTown what competitors and spectators alike can look forward to this August.
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The 37-year-old who calls Lebanon home is a son, brother, and father. Rodriguez is an entrepreneur who owns a small business in Lebanon. He also serves on the Coleman Memorial Park board of trustees.
Rodriguez said about 16 years ago, he realized “how sports brings people together. I felt there was a time that we needed to bring more young men together.” He helped start the Salvation Army Basketball League, which eventually led to the Sweep the Streets’ high school and men’s tournaments.
The organizational process behind the tournaments starts every January.
Rodriguez said that by “February, we start getting everything together. It is kind of a local staple now. So, teams do fill up fast. So, the marketing promotion on getting the teams isn’t too much needed. Whereas now, they kind of reach out, and they’re ready to lock in. Teams are usually locked in by March. And then, we get sponsors and everything locked in by May.”
Flyers, banners, and other promotional materials are created, and trophies are ordered.
The 8th annual high school tournament was held from 3 to 7 p.m. June 21 at Coleman Memorial Park. Eight local teams competed for the coveted first-place trophy, with Cedar Crest taking it home for the second consecutive year. ELCO came in second place this year.
“That’s basically just to get the summer warmed up for the big tournament. We wanted to do something for the high school kids” that allows the players to compete and the coaches to see where the teams are at for the high school basketball season in the fall, Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said in the interview that he watched players who once competed in the high school tournament now compete in the men’s tournament.
The men’s tournament is open to players 18 years old and older who travel from all over the East Coast to compete. Teams for this year’s tournament are already booked.
“Some are former An1 basketball players. Years ago, we had a former NBA player play. A lot of them are college players or just local great athletes,” Rodriguez said. “So, it’s a good mix of competitive basketball. Every year, it gets way more competitive than we expect it.”
According to Rodriguez, the men’s tournament will feature something new this year: recognizing the organization, the community leader, the athlete, and the sponsor of the year.
“Something new that we wanted to add to not only have the focus about Sweep the Streets, but we are a community. So, we wanted to shine light on other organizations doing great things and other people doing great things,” Rodriguez said. “So, it’s our way to give back to them as well.”
“Also, something fun I’m doing is playing Kailah Correa,” Rodriguez said. “I’m playing her one-on-one for a scholarship check. If she can beat me one-on-one, Sweep the Streets will be donating something back to her athletic career.”
The men’s tournament will also offer attendees food vendors, a live DJ, and face painting.
Christman’s Funeral Home continues to be the main title sponsor for the Sweep the Streets tournaments. Iron Valley Real Estate, Maguire’s Ford Family in Palmyra, A&M Pizza Quentin, and The Connect (Rodriguez’s small business in Lebanon) are also sponsoring this year’s tournaments.
For those unfamiliar with Coleman Memorial Park, Rodriguez said to pull up, go around the roundabout, and park in the side grass areas or, if those areas are already parked full, park in one of the two large parking lots.
“It is shaded,” Rodriguez said of the park. “Guests can bring their own chairs. We do have some benches out there. But, it is suggested to bring your own chair if you are able to.”
Rodriguez wanted to give Coleman Memorial Park a big thank you for “helping me bring this basketball court to life and this concept to life.” He also thanked the City of Lebanon, specifically the board and the mayor, as well as Jared Odrick.
“Without any of those people, some of these things couldn’t be possible. So, it’s not just about me or Sweep the Streets,” Rodriguez said. “It’s about [the] Lebanon community as a whole.” He added that youth and men’s programs benefit the community as well as those directly involved.
“I just think that it’s an important time, especially with the things that are going on in our community,” Rodriguez said. “Sports bring people together. Basketball is a brotherhood.”
In addition to encouraging communication and discouraging violence, Sweep the Streets helps inner-city youth by providing them with clothing and school supplies as well as providing them with experiences, such as taking them to museums, and boating, fishing, and horseback riding.
“We’ve realized that experiences for some of these … inner-city kids are really life-changing for them. And it begins to open their head and their mind to different things that are not just street-oriented, if you know what I mean,” Rodriguez said.
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