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Basketball tournament builds community through competition

Riverdale Park District wins 2019 championship

by Ernst Lamothe, Thornton Township Communication Manager

SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. (September 1, 2019) – The third annual Taste of Thornton Township basketball tournament crowned the Riverdale Park District team as champions on Friday, August 23. This year the tournament was bigger in several ways. Eight teams, including a team from Lansing, participated in the double elimination tournament, the largest number ever. And a crowd of more than 150 filled the South Suburban College bleachers. The large crowd watching the early games elevated the enthusiasm and energy in the building.

The tournament combines police, firefighters, department employees, and teenagers on the same team for the pride of their town. This year the Riverdale Police and Fire Department came in second, while the Harvey Police Department came in third.

Typically, communities have police officers and kids playing against each other in a basketball tournament; however, Thornton Township officials decided the alternative made more sense.

“The way you make a community stronger is working together, loving each other, and knowing each other,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township Supervisor. “We shouldn’t have kids and police officers on opposite teams. We should have them side by side helping lift each other up. This [tournament] is something we are going to do every year, and it is going to be bigger and better.”

The five-on-five basketball tournament, which was held at South Suburban College, is one of many Thornton Township programs that focus on police officers and teenagers learning more about each other. By working together, laughing together, huddling to plan strategy, and encouraging and supporting one another throughout the day, lasting relationships are built.

Police officers and teens on the Lansing team huddle to discuss an upcoming play. (Photo provided)

“We pride ourselves on creating new and exciting programs that both entertain and bring together our residents,” added Jerry Jones, Thornton Township Board Member. “This basketball tournament is just another example of that.”

Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Ernst Lamothe currently serves as Communications Manager for Thornton Township and brings two decades of journalism experience to that role. "I believe it is important to educate and inform people about their world," he says.