Giving Back

Somerville Basketball Tournament Doesn’t Have a Name, a Sponsor, or Trophies – But It’s Got Game, Heart and Soul

8fac4c17aa882ac31c33_sompixhoopsgantt1.JPG
d2270686ea4dc090e471_sompixhoopsgant2.JPG
Wallace Gantt helped to organize a basketball tournament to benefit Somerville kids six years ago, and it gets bigger each year. Credits: Rod Hirsch
8fac4c17aa882ac31c33_sompixhoopsgantt1.JPG

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Wallace Gantt is all about helping kids and having a good time, keeping it loose and keeping it simple.

Gantt is a 1980 graduate of Somerville High School. He was an all-state football player in his high school days, a hard-hitting cornerback, but for the past several years, his focus has been on a different sport.

The basketball tournament he first organized six years ago reflects his personality, his attitude and philosophy.

Sign Up for E-News

The tournament doesn’t have a name or sponsor. There are no trophies for the winners. That’s not what is important, according to Gantt.  

Simple. Home grown. No entitlements. No complications.

 “We’ve tried to keep it that way,” Gantt said. “We didn’t want any ‘Big Box’ store donations, we want the people who live in Somerville to support the tournament, the residents who live in town to donate stuff, whatever they can.”

Several hundred people are expected for the Saturday, July 30th tournament at Michael Lepp Park, 21 Park Ave. There will be at least four games, beginning at 11 a.m. Gantt doesn’t expect the crowd will begin breaking up until 6 p.m.

The goal of the tournament is to collect school supplies for students whose families can't afford to, according to Gantt.

“We want everyone to feel that they are part of it,” Gantt continued. "We don’t get political with it, we’ve got no agenda. We just want the kids and the parents to have a nice time.”

There is no game plan. Jump ball to get things started and after that, it’s anybody’s guess.

Gantt calls long-time community activist Joanne Procter, well-known to everyone at the tournament “The Arbiter.”

“She’s cool, she’s got a great sense of humor, she sits there in this big recliner, a big King Tut-like chair she’s like Judge Judy, when somebody’s got a problem, or they don’t like the ref’s call, we stop the game, and we say, ‘let’s go the chairperson.’

“They start pleading their case – ‘I went up for a layup and got hit, he should have called a foul,’ she plays the role, you know, she’ll say ‘yeah, he got hit, but I didn’t see it, stop whining and go play ball.’

“It’s just a fun-filled day,” Gantt said.

This is street ball, lots of trash talk; rules are enforced arbitrarily, but hey, it’s not all about the game, it’s about having fun, Gantt emphasizes.

Keeping score is not a priority.

“Nah, there’s no trophies, if you win, you just win, you know what I’m sayin’ just bragging rights, that way you keep the tournament simple, you ain’t getting no trophy and you ain’t getting no banner if you win, congratulations, we’ll see you next year, and you know, it works out good that way,” Gantt said.

The kids who play – they got game, and they got heart, according to Gantt.

Gantt is a member of the Aldridge B. Cooper Sr. Mason Lodge #69 and that’s where the idea for the tournament started.

Club #69 of the A.B. Cooper, Sr. Lodge #69, P.H.A. and sister organization, Keturah, O.E.S. Eastern Star Club #63 take care of the permits and insurance for the tournament and provide the food and drink.

“We formed a Boys’ Club at the lodge, a lot of kids didn’t have both parents in their house and the whole thing is there wasn’t much for the kids to do so we started the club,” Gantt explained. “We used to have parties on Friday nights for the kids; they had to bring their report cards if they wanted to get in for free, we were just trying to make them accountable for something, you know,” he added.

“This is my baby but it’s not my tournament. It belongs to the community,” said Gantt, who has three sons, one of them a New Jersey State Trooper.

His son gathers together friends from his college fraternity to play in the tournament; there’s a team from Middle Earth, and a women’s team, all of whom played together at Somerville High School. Another team calls itself the OG’s – Old Guys.

Mayor Brian Gallagher also plays in the tournament with a team he puts together.

“They’re not very good, but we let them play,” Gantt said, laughing.

 “We have a lot of little kids hanging around there, they really can’t play so we’ll call a time out, let the kids come out on the on court and shoot, maybe have a contest, give them something, it makes them feel good, kind of special,” Gantt said.

“You want to donate, go across the street there to the store and buy a couple cans of soda, bring it back over here and we’ll give it to the kids,” he said.

Last year the Somerville police stopped by, popped the trunk of their patrol car and donated 15 book bags.

“Bring everybody down, we’re going to have hot dogs, barbeque stuff, drinks; bring some school supplies, clothes, we’ve got a couple of barbers in town who are going to give away free haircuts so some of the kids will get the complete package.

 “We just hope that some of this goodness rubs off on one or two of the kids,” Gantt said. “That’s what it’s all about, the kids.”

There is no website or Facebook page, but donors with school supplies, other goods or services can contact Gantt at (732) 491-6095.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

Upcoming Events

Tue, May 29, 7:00 PM

The Heldrich Hotel, New Brunswick

New Jersey's Environment - A Pivotal Moment: an ...

Education Government Green Home & Garden Other

Wed, May 30, 7:30 AM

South Brunswick High School - Auxiliary Gym, Monmouth Junction

South Brunswick Community Blood Drive

Giving Back Health & Wellness

Wed, May 30, 6:30 PM

Cooper Conference Room, The Erdman Center, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton

Artists' Round Table with Performing Artists from ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

Baseball: South Plainfield Tigers Win First Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament Championship in Program History After 12-Inning Marathon Against Perth Amboy HS

May 27, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ-  South Plainfield High School senior Connor Adams had already begun stealing second base when a groundout was recorded and stood a potential base hit away from scoring the go-ahead run on a hot and sticky afternoon. After senior Mike Stanczak struck out swinging, Adams broke for third base and the ball ended up into left field.

“As soon as I saw that ball go into ...

Annual Immaculate Conception Carnival On Tap

SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Immaculate Conception will host their annual carnival on June 12 through June 16. The carnival will be open on Tuesday, June 12 through Friday, June 15 from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. and on Saturday, June 16 from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. Fireworks will close out the five-day event on June 16.

The Immaculate Conception Summer Carnival is a family-friendly, community event that includes ...

PayPal CEO says Rutgers grads need to "Help Repair the World"

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, called on the Class of 2018 on Sunday to take a stand for social justice as they graduate during a time of unprecedented technological and social change.

He talked about the decision at PayPal to rescind plans to build a global operations center in North Carolina following legislation many considered discriminatory ...

Belmar Mayor’s Pardoning of Lobster Will Kick Off New Jersey Seafood Festival

May 17, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — With the start of the New Jersey Seafood Festival tomorrow, Belmar Mayor Brian Magovern wants to show a lobster some love.

At 3:30 p.m. on May 18, he will kick off the annual three-day event by pardoning “Lucky Larry the Lobster” on the Fifth Avenue beach and then releasing it into the ocean … hopefully.

“In my power as mayor, I want to pardon a ...

Inclusion Center to Start Programs on June 2

May 23, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—Disability Allies, Inc. (DA), a 501(c)(3) organization based in East Brunswick opened the Young Adult Inclusion Center on April 28, 2018 is featuring a variety of programs to Young Adults with Special Needs in the following areas: Technology, Music, Theatre/Drama, Cooking/Baking, Arts & Crafts, and Poetry & Creative Writing. The programs are set to begin on June ...

Senator Robert Menendez to Give the Keynote Address to Progressive Grassroots Group

Senator Robert Menendez will be the keynote speaker that the Inaugural Gala presented by Action Together New Jersey (ATNJ), the state’s largest progressive grassroots organization.

“I am honored and humbled that Action Together New Jersey asked me to keynote this year’s gala,” Sen. Menendez said. “After a 2016 election that shook many New Jerseyans to their core, ...

"Itʼs Time for New Leadership" Say Middlesex County Republicans

On Tuesday, June 12th, elected county committee members of the Middlesex County Republican Organization will have a choice on who will be their next County Chair and party executive board.

Sharon D. Hubberman, former Middlesex County Freeholder Candidate, and current Perth Amboy Republican Chair has announced she will accept her nomination for the Middlesex County Republican Chairmanship ...