Sunday Ballin’: a San Jose tradition

2010 alum Jesse Blitzstein dribbles down the court during Sunday Ballin' at Roosevelt Park.

Basketball was always a big deal for me.  I started playing in the 8th grade and quickly fell in love with it. Forward 10 years later, I’m in San Jose, CA getting ready to commit to a year of service with City Year where I was able to bring my love of the game to help build our own community.

During non-working hours, I was either thinking about, watching or playing basketball. Without a basketball court in plain sight, I did a lot more watching than playing.  Then there it was; a basketball court at Overfelt High School on the East Side of San Jose. This is where the idea of Sunday Ballin’ was born. We got together a few times that year and had a really great time. Little did I know how much it would grow from there.

Fast forward one year later, I’m back with City Year after a great service year and an even better year for City Year San Jose’s Cyzygy basketball team (we finally passed the first AND second rounds which was something CYSJ never did before). Coming back I was thinking to myself, “We did that well only playing a few times together; how well could we do if we  played every week!?”

So as soon as I found my new home with a basketball hoop and a half-court, I immediately started contacting new corps and staff members to play basketball at Cahill Park.  This became a weekly thing as my weekly mass text titled “Sunday Ballin” would be “Bball at Cahill at 3pm.”

This became a cherished tradition for us to all get together and play basketball and welcoming ALL skill levels. They ranged  from the ballers who played their entire life to those who just started playing basketball that very day.  Of course I wanted it to be as competitive as can be, but I also wanted all of us to come as community and get to know each other more through basketball.

“Sunday Ballin’ ” is not limited to City Year members.  We have all sorts of people playing like Paris from the YMCA, Chad who was in construction and an alum of YMCA, Preston from Rocketship (a charter school program in San Jose), a homeless man named “Ice-man” and so on. We have gone a long way playing in courts such as Cahill Park, Skyport Courts and Roosevelt Park. Going on to its fourth year, we now play every Sunday at Roosevelt Park in downtown San Jose but will soon start playing at Colombus Park near Japantown, San Jose.  It has turned into a great way for corps members to connect with alumni and other people in the San Jose community.

– Jeff Tibayan, Alum CYSJ


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