Anthony Barbosa started Summer Jam Classic in 2016 with the idea of using basketball to uplift and unite communities in Worcester. Barbosa, originally from Worcester, spent many days on the city courts, including playing on the team as a student at what is now called Worcester Technical High School, from which he graduated in 2010. He launched Summer Jam Classic – a nine-ball basketball tournament with a series of open games leading up to it – after a visit to New York, when he saw the basketball courts filled with people and street ball games. He says he wanted to create that sense of community in Worcester.
“The Summer Jam Classic was born out of love,” says Stephanie Adams, operations manager for the event. “Love for basketball and love for community, being able to combine the two to uplift young people and build community.”
Basketball has always been important in minority communities. Barbosa emcee and operations assistant James Lambert said: “Basketball was one of the first tangible things of success we saw or experienced growing up, so we used our talent and our love for the game as an outlet.” Summer Jam Classic is currently hosting a series of open races featuring adult men’s teams, high school boys’ teams and high school girls’ teams at 7.30pm on Tuesdays and Fridays at Crompton Park.
The main event will take place at 11 a.m. on August 13 at Crompton Park. That day there will be food, games, face painting, a bouncy house, music and local vendors. Lambert will be the MC for the event, and he wants the atmosphere to feel like “Grandma’s backyard, a space where everyone feels at home.” Adams emphasizes that this is a family event. “Don’t be discouraged from coming thinking it’s a purely sporting event, it’s also for the community.”
The use of Crompton Park’s newly refurbished basketball courts is an important aspect as Crompton Park has been a staple in the city for years. Lambert says it’s “the heart of the city.” Many people grew up in this park and have now seen it transform over the years. Unfortunately, Worcester has seen a lot of violence and gang affiliation and some fighting through basketball. Players take to the field to play, leaving all troubles behind for the love of the game. This creates opportunities to have conversations and bond with community leaders and playmakers.
Barbosa remembers when he started out and barely had two sponsors. He laughs now saying, “Now there’s no more room on the leaflet.” Barbosa has racked up over 30 sponsors for this year’s Summer Jam Classic. He has connected with several local businesses and entrepreneurs including Friendly House, QuiRicos, ScoopDrip, Michael Angelos Barbershop, and more. Barbosa beamed proudly as he said, “People are finally starting to see the vision.” All vendors are required to donate an item for raffles, “for the greater good and enrichment of the community,” says Lambert.
Over the years, Barbosa has used funds to provide free haircuts and backpacks for children. Barbosa’s goal for this year is to use the funds raised to renovate the city’s basketball courts. “Some parks need lights or a fresh coat of paint, some art, some motivation to get more people outside,” he says. He hopes to be able to hold Summer Jam Classic on different grounds to make it a city-wide event.
The Barbosa team shares the same vision and the same love for basketball. They see it as an opportunity to create a “day of peace” in the city. Encouraging residents to end the violence and join a good cause can end up having long-lasting positive effects, giving people who were once rivals something in common. Barbosa was named a Hometown Hero in 2017 and he continues to do the work and create this heritage day in the city. Lambert praises Barbosa saying, “He honors a lot of people, he worked hard for this, many times having to come out of pocket just to make this happen.”
Join Summer Jam Classic on August 13 for an amazing community day for people of all ages. There will be prizes, trophies and raffles. There will be a cash prize of $1,500 for the winner of the Men’s Pro-Am game. Scoop Drip donated a $250 gift card for their merchandise. There will also be a sneaker raffle for two pairs of sneakers donated by Reebok.