Every section of New York has a spot where it goes down on the basketball court. In Harlem it’s Rucker, in Brooklyn it’s Gersh, but according to Andrew Ayodeji, the founder of the Bolden Mack Park Tournament, he’s holding it down for Long Island.
The Amityville native started the tournament in 2017 to give members of the community a way to stay active, productive and safe.
“Everybody is staying out of trouble and we’re saving lives,” said Ayodeji.
The Bolden Mack team has worked with the Suffolk County Police, and according to Ayodeji, crime has gone down 80 percent around Amityville since starting the tournament. They were honored by the Town of Babylon for being a positive force in the community.
“We’ve decreased crime because it has given people something to do when their time is idle,” said Ayodeji. “There were only two shootings in the neighborhood that whole summer in 2017 and only one shooting last summer and that was just an air shooting.”
“It’s a good look.” said Anthony Elechi, who plays in the tournament for Team Natural Born. He has also played at Morgan State, Kentucky and oversees in the United Kingdom and Japan. “Who doesn’t like watching a good game where people compete and play their heart out?”
Elechi is part of the 12 Pro Am men’s teams. There are also eight high school boys and girls teams, and there’s an array of talent.
Ayodeji played basketball on the championship team at Amityville Memorial High School and played in college. During that time, he gained a lot of connections in the basketball world that allowed him to easily get together an operations team and players to compete.
View this post on Instagram
Huge thank you to everyone who supported @boldenmackpark summer basketball league. Our mission was and continues to be too help reduce crime in our communities during the summer months. . . The league was honored tonight by Town, Local, County, and State legislators for doing just that. The league proves we can change any negative narratives that linger about our neighbors. BoldenMack Park will be the highlight of summer activities for years to come. . . Major s/o to Commissioner @andrewayodeji this is your vision, It’s not just about “basketball” it’s about establishing a safe place for youth to grow and develop commitment, discipline and self-awareness. #welcometothemack
“My friends said it was good competition and it was one of the best leagues on Long Island,” said Kendall Robinson, who started playing in the league this year and plans on continuing again next year. Robison also played in a league in Riverhead, but he noted what made Bolden Mack different. “They just bring everybody out in the community and from different towns.”
The league welcomes teams from all over Long Island and beyond. They also have teams from Nassau County, Queens and Brooklyn.
“It’s positive for Amityville and all over,” said David Simon who joined Bolden Mack this year as a coordinator for the high school boys teams. “Amityville is predominantly Black, and for us to have one of the biggest basketball tournaments is just beautiful. People can see how we represent as a people. We’re peaceful, caring and we can get together and make something work to benefit the youth and the community.”
Ayodeji wants to improving and expanding the league to make it one of the biggest in New York. They’ve added a girls dance team, and they plan on adding an adult women’s team in the future.
The final championship games are happening this Friday starting with the high school boys at 5:30 p.m. with Purpose Basketball v. TND, the high school girls at 6:30 p.m. with Baldwin v. Rosedale Elite and the Men’s Pro Am at 7:30 p.m. with Team Takeover v. Team Frank White.