As the last rays of the summer sun set, the CLE PAL/Nike Summer Boys High School Basketball League reached its exhilarating conclusion at Cudell Recreation Center. For six intense weeks, the echoing sounds of bouncing basketballs and the cheers of encouragement filled the air as over a hundred young athletes geared up to showcase their talents and dedication on the court.
Ten fierce teams were fielded from various high schools in the Cleveland area, with one notable exception: the CLE PAL team. This special team, a shining beacon of diversity and inclusivity, was comprised of youngsters who weren’t a part of any other teams. The teams hailed from a broad spectrum of high schools, each bringing its unique spirit and determination to the league:
James F. Rhodes
Westside Community School
The teams were a testament to the melting pot of talent and determination that resides within the boundaries of our city. However, it was the underdog team CLE PAL that emerged victorious, having lost only one game throughout the entire season. Their success can be attributed to the invaluable guidance of their coach, Lavar Hamilton. Hamilton, an ex-PAL player himself, recently received recognition in the form of a Nike/PAL film documentary.
But the League was not just about competition and victories. Embedded within the framework of the sporting event were health and life skills workshops. Each day before their games, the participants engaged in these valuable sessions, further strengthening their holistic growth. These workshops stood as a testament to the commitment of the league towards nurturing not just athletic prowess, but also the overall well-being of its participants.
This event wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity and vision of certain key individuals. Special thanks go to Recreation Commissioner Sam Gissantaner for graciously permitting us to host the league at Cudell Rec. Cudell Rec. Manager Ron Fields deserves equal gratitude for his impeccable management and unyielding support throughout the season.
In conclusion, the CLE PAL/Nike Summer Boys High School Basketball League served as a reminder of the power of sport, community, and the limitless potential of our youth. We look forward to more such moments of celebration, camaraderie, and sportsmanship in the seasons to come.