By Joseph Staszewski
What Haron “H2O” Hargrave saw as a possible one-time thing is now a continuing and blossoming event.
“Queens Week is about having a stage to showcase your ability and talent,” he said.
What Hargrave started as Queens Day, along with co-founder David Buckno, six years ago, was a one-day unlimited streetball tournament at Roy Wilkins Park in Jamaica. First they added an extra day and last year the festivities were expanding over an entire week. That will continue Aug. 13-19 at Roy Wilkins Park.
Hargrave’s good friend Mark Arrington was shot and killed in Hollis in November 2007, when he was still at Sacramento State. That and the shootings of hip-hop artist Stack Bundles and Sean Bell, among others, were the inspiration for the event to promote nonviolence at its inception.
“We didn’t really know the response to it,” Hargrave said. “It just kept getting bigger and bigger. It feels great that things have been on the up. The progress of this is beyond belief.”
This time, the former Campus Magnet star and regular on the New York City streetball circuit has added an unlimited women’s tournament instead of just a single game as in the past, run by Renee Taylor. The former Monsignor Scanlan star played overseas for Helios in Switzerland last year.
“I told [Taylor], ‘This is your event, but we are going to do it at Queens Week,’” Hargrave said. “You get the girls’ teams. It feels good to have her on board.”
The $1,000 grand prize tournament will take place Wednesday and Thursday will be part of a week packed with tournaments. An amateur/college men’s tournament will take place Thursday and Friday and the winner gets a free entry into the $5,000-prize men’s unlimited showcase Saturday and Sunday. There is also a girls’ high school tournament.
Sunday is expected to be championship day, featuring each tournament’s title game, starting at 11 a.m. There will also be a free clinic run from Monday to Friday for kids ages 6-16 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Kids can show up to any of the days as they please.
Friday night will be about more than basketball, as an artist showcase or music and dance will take place at the park’s Black Spectrum Theatre, whose home troupe will also perform, at 7 p.m.
Hargrave is proud of the sponsors he has in Powerade and the New York Knicks, among others. He is hoping for a title sponsor to make Queens Week its own and help him expand it even more.
“You already have an established organization and established program that has shown growth,” Hargrave said. “You don’t have to do anything but back it.”