Ballin’ 4 Peace Holiday Basketball Classic in Springfield Gardens shines spotlight on local athletes

Photo by Ethan Marshall

Several junior varsity boys and girls basketball teams from across New York City and Long Island gathered at Springfield Gardens High School on Dec. 27 and 28 to participate in the second annual Ballin’ 4 Peace Holiday Basketball Classic. The event helped shine a spotlight on the young athletes who participated, with many of them aspiring to play basketball in college.

Additionally, money was raised through ticket and merchandise sales to benefit the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Ballin’ 4 Peace in its charitable efforts.

Bayside High School and Broome Street Academy face off at the Ballin’ 4 Peace Holiday Basketball Classic (Photo by Ethan Marshall)

In addition to acting as a great event for colleges looking to recruit players, this event helps to keep the players out of trouble during their winter break. It also allows the players to keep in shape and work on their chemistry with teammates.

Founded by Haron Hargrave, Ballin’ 4 Peace is committed to raising awareness as an effort to reduce senseless acts of violence across the United States. The organization encourages communities to spread peace through sports like basketball.

Ballin’ 4 Peace Founder and CEO Haron Hargrave (Photo courtesy of Ballin’ 4 Peace)

According to Hargrave, he wanted to hold the event at Springfield Gardens High School because he shares a personal connection with it: His mother was a teacher there for more than 25 years. He also spent some time working there as a teacher.

The two-day event also comes shortly after Hargrave generously donated new basketball rims for the school’s gym. As a former PSAL athlete himself, Hargrave understands the challenges and goals many of these athletes face.

“Our message is peace through sports,” Hargrave told QNS. “This event [leads to] the next step. We want to get these kids scholarships, try to get them more attention, get them recruited and try to get them to that next level. The most important thing for this is getting the inner city youth off the streets. We’re giving them opportunities for support and to play ball. This also allows them to play during the break.”

For many participating schools, this event acted as more than an exhibition. It offered them a chance to test their skills against some of the best teams in the city and on Long Island. They had the opportunity to leave impressions on potential recruiters, too.

“Any time we give our team an opportunity to play over vacation, it’s a bonding opportunity and a good chance for them to play basketball,” Bayside High School Head Coach Steven Scharf said. “We know they’re safer here than they would be out doing anything else. I think the event was great, the people who ran the event were great, the exposure for the kids are great. Any time people take their own time for kids, it’s a great event.”

In addition to Bayside High School, other schools that took part in the second day of the event included Broome Street Academy, Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School, George Washington High School, Hillcrest High School, Summit Academy, Springfield Gardens High School, Martin Van Buren High School, Forest Hills High School, Boys and Girls High School, Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, Thurgood Marshall Academy, Queens High School of Teaching, Erasmus Hall Campus High School, Eagle Academy for Young Men III and Gompers Campus.

“I think [this event] is very important because I live in this community,” Bayside High School student-athlete Gavin Johnston said. “Events like this could impact me directly. And it’s great for my teammates because this is exposure and a lot of my teammates as well as myself are trying to get eyes on us. I think we performed well [today], though we were a little sloppy at times.”