The ‘Don’t Shoot Guns Shoot Hoops’ event raises awareness of gun violence prevention and mental health

The organizers hope that the new event will be an annual tournament in the twin cities, providing a safe place for the community.

MEMORY POLICE – Timothy Gill combined two of her passions Friday night: basketball and serving others.

Gill, a former prominent Patrick Henry High School, became a licensed social worker after playing hoops at Division I college level and professionally abroad. Against that background, he helped organize the first “Don’t Shoot Guns Shoot Hoops” event ever at the Colin Powell Center in South Minneapolis, a four-team tournament featuring some of the best men and women players in the twin cities.

“We use sports to solve many of our problems. Some of the players out there that I chose, it saved their lives. It saved my life,” Gill said. “I’m using it today to get a bigger message out there.”

The tournament attracted a packed crowd on a chilly Friday night, providing a safe place in a time of increased violence locally and across the country. In addition to highlighting the need for gun violence prevention, the “Don’t Shoot Guns Shoot Hoops” event also featured speakers on mental health.

“We just want to say, ‘It’s okay to be vulnerable,'” Gill said. “It’s okay to use the resources around you.”

One of the other main organizers, Tommy McBrayer, said he hopes these messages can be spread across the twin cities.

“Every kid gets a ‘Don’t Shoot Guns Shoot Hoops’ t-shirt,” McBrayer said. “When you go to the local park, you can see kids wearing these things: ‘Do not shoot with weapons, shoot hangers’.”

Spectators in the crowd, who paid $ 10 for admission, saw a stunning display of basketball among all four teams vying for a trophy. The teams were geographically divided and represented players from northern Minneapolis, southern Minneapolis and St. Louis. Paul.

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Sarina Simmons, who played four years of Big East basketball at Marquette University and scored more than 1,000 career points, competed for the team known as “TEAM,” which stands for “Teach Everyone a Method.”

“I think it’s a good thing. It’s a great event to bring the community together,” Simmons said. “I think it’s very important that we do. I hope to be back here next year.”

One of Simmons’ teammates on the TEAM, Vonte Copeland, played college basketball at the University of Saint Mary, a NAIA school in Kansas.

“I grew up around gun violence. A lot of people have done it in this event tonight. So it’s deeper than basketball,” Copeland said. “[This event] means a lot. It gives the kids something to look up to. Give the kids some hope. ”

Gill and McBrayer, the main organizers, say they fully plan to make “Don’t Shoot Guns Shoot Hoops” an annual event in the Twin Cities.

“We want to keep doing it, keep getting bigger, keep growing,” Gill said. “We’re putting a lot of collaboration on it here, and next year we’ll just keep topping it.”

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