NBA superstar LeBron James announced that he isn’t coming to New York, but the next day, nobody in Elmont seemed to mind as the community came together during Elmont’s annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament at the Dutch Broadway School on Friday July 9. Everyone from players, parents, volunteers and elected officials participated in the yearly event, which is a tribute to the athleticism and sportsmanship of the young members of the Elmont and surrounding communities.
“We grew from about 60 kids in the gym to probably 1,500 to 2,000 kids. I think it’s wonderful,” said Walter Aksionoff, principal of the Dutch Broadway School. “They are our future.”
The tournament began seven years ago under the auspices of Scott Cushing when Cushing was chief of staff for Assemblyman Tom Alfano and has been held each year. The event not only includes members of the Elmont community but also from surrounding communities such as Franklin Square, Floral Park and Valley Stream.
“This is all about community and all about fitness and positive things during the long summer months. A lot of these kids aren’t going to go on vacation anywhere. This is a great opportunity for them to see their friends from school and have some good, clean fun and I’m very proud to be a part of it,” said Assemblyman Alfano. “It’s great to see how big it’s grown. The Elmont community is very cohesive. A lot of people care about the community and the schools are the focal point of the community. It’s all about positive reinforcement of community and values.”
Cushing remains the centerpiece of the tournament, organizing the volunteers that number over 140, the sponsors and the games so that they take place in an orderly fashion. Among the dignitaries who joined him in supporting the cause were Aksionoff, Elmont superintendent of schools Al Harper, Elmont Board of Education President Michael Jaime, Nassau County Legislator John Ciotti, New York State Senate candidate Jack Martins, New York Gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio, Assemblyman Alfano, Assemblyman Bob Barra, New York State Senator Dean Skelos, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Sandra Smith and Patrick Nicolosi of the Elmont Coalition of Sustainable Development.
Prior to the tournament beginning, Cushing announced that the tournament would be named after the late David Dangerfield, who past away last summer. Dangerfield was a role model to many in Elmont and he and his wife Erica as well as their seven children — children TJ, David “Deuce,” Jordan, Jared, Davina, Chaanelle, Charrise — believed strongly in giving back to the community.
The Dangerfield family returned to Elmont (they currently live in Florida) to be a part of the event. “This is our home. It’s just an honor to be here,” said Erica Dangerfield. “David was very community-oriented and he loved the kids. He instilled in his sons to give back to the community. They are all here volunteering. It means a lot especially because a lot of kids volunteering today, he helped to coach and he was a mentor to them. It’s been a very hard year for us. I always told people that my husband was the nicest person I’ve known, not just because he was my husband, because he was just such an easy person to talk to and loving and caring to everyone.”
Cushing also recognized other community members who lost their lives recently including Kendrick Morrow, who was shot in killed in Queens at a house party this past May; Tristen Theodore, who was shot and killed trying to escape being kidnapped after a home invasion in Woodmere; and Abigail Trent.
After the opening ceremonies, it was time to play some basketball. The tournament was broken down into four divisions with the 5th and 6th grade division playing first, followed by the 7th and 8th grade division and 9th and 10th grade division and ending with the 11th and 12th grade division.
At the end the day, the tournament attracted 3,900 people making everyone associated with it a winner.