Queens Day is Haron Hargrave’s personal labor of love.
The former Campus Magnet standout watched a string of violence rip though the borough of Queens during his college years. He mentioned the shootings of hip-hop artist Stack Bundles, Sean Bell and another much closer to his heart.
His good friend, Mark Arrington, was shot and killed in Hollis in November 2007, with Hargrave still away at Sacramento State.
“When I came home my best friend was gone,” Hargrave said. “I wanted to do a non-violence, stop the violence campaign and do something positive. I did it through basketball.”
It spawned the idea for Queens Day, a two-day streetball event. Hargrave, nicknamed H2O on the streetball circuit, was at Roy Wilkins Park in Jamaica Aug. 8 running the second day of the fourth-annual installment. Aug. 7 featured games for the younger kids, a 19-and-under high school boys game and a 15-and-under girls contest. Aug. 8 was the men’s tournament, the main event.
“We wanted to do more like a battleground thing, like an iron man tournament, something that people would remember and want to do it again,” Hargrave said.
The tournament was double elimination. Games were played on one of two courts to a 20-minute time limit or the first team to score 21 points. Teams played multiple games in the sweltering heat, with a DJ in the background. There was also free food and drinks for the spectators lined up around the fences and on the sidelines.
The intensity level of the competition was much higher than most regular streetball games. Team’s were pressing, throwing double teams at ball handlers and sacrificing their bodies at every turn. The shortened games leave little margin for error.
“I woke up early trying to prepare myself,” former Bishop Loughlin star and Hargrave’s Rosedale Trailblazers teammate Herbie Allen said.
It is that type of competition that brings people from across the city back each year. Hargrave said he doesn’t have to call players anymore to come down. They call him. He has had as many as 12 teams furiously competing for the cash prize and pride.
“We are talking about it in the winter time,” said Rashaun Gibbs, who played his high school ball at Francis Lewis and lives near Roy Wilkins Park. “We are in a blizzard and we are talking about [how] we can’t wait until Queens Day.”
Hargrave spends most of the day, which starts at 11 a.m. and ends around 5:30 p.m., running from court to court. He keeps the time on his Blackberry, mans the scoreboard and decides the day’s match-ups. All in a day’s work for his labor of love.
“I was just like, ‘Enough is enough,’ so I came up with this idea,” Hargrave said. “We definitely have a fun day to play basketball and have your friends and family out and just enjoy yourself.”
©2010 Community News Group
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