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The LA Watts Summer Games Return After Four-Year Absence with a New Name and Expanded Mission
By Sentinel News Service
Published June 7, 2017

 

USA City Games is bringing the Summer Games back! The one-day kickoff celebration and competitions will take place at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, June 17, 2017. The event is free and open to the public. This year’s event is a celebratory pre-cursor to the 50th anniversary of the USA City Games, a project of The Giving Back Fund, in 2018 and marks the return of the Games for the first time since 2013. Exhibition games to be showcased at this year’s kickoff include 7-on-7 football, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, soccer and track & field. Up to 1,000 youth athletes are expected to participate.

“Every young person in Los Angeles deserves the opportunity to excel, to know the thrill of competition, and to build values of equality, teamwork and fair play that will serve them well throughout their lives,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The USA City Games are a celebration of those values and their return is good news for everyone in our city.” The Mayor’s Office will deliver a proclamation for the Games at the event.

“We’re really excited to bring the games back,” says Billy Frank, Executive Chairman of USA City Games. “The original L.A. Watts Summer Games were conceived to bridge racial barriers after the 1965 L.A. Watts Rebellion. Because of the divide that America is facing today, it’s even more important that we demonstrate our similarities instead of our differences—and these games are a perfect vehicle. My business partner, Don Janklow, and I decided to remount the games because we felt our backgrounds in sports, media, advertising and marketing could renew interest from sponsors and collaborating partners. The USA City Games will always pay homage to the L.A. Watts Summer Games and continue that legacy, not only in Los Angeles, but also nationally as youth sports programs are a great vehicle to bring together communities through healthy competition and sportsmanship.”

Carla Jones, Executive Director for USA City Games, shares her feelings about The Games and why she has been so deeply committed to and involved in the project. She says, “This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart; and, USA City Games leadership shares my values of honor, integrity and fair play.” She goes on to say, “Billy Frank and Don Janklow have a brilliant vision which I believe will touch thousands of lives across the country and make a very meaningful and powerful difference in our communities.” Jones has been an avid health and fitness professional for over 20 years and she firmly believes that a focus on youth health & wellness, mind, body and positive spirit is the key to a brighter, healthier and more rewarding future of achievement and the pursuit of excellence among our youth.

In addition to the name change, the organizers are also planning several first-time initiatives for the Games. One is a year-long educational program in LAUSD schools, The Olympian Inner-City School Sports Activity program, headed by VP of Youth Development and four-time Olympian, Rod Dixon. Second, for the first time in its history, athletes from Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks have also been included in the games, adding an age category of 12-15-year-old competitors to the already established 15-18-year-olds. And third, for the first time in the Games’ 49-year history, Frank and Janklow have recruited renowned Olympians to mentor the youth athletes.

A stellar team of coaches and chairs have been assembled for the games. In addition to Dixon, Tracy Sundlun, who has been an Olympic coach and manager multiple years since 1976, will chair the Track and Field events, joined by four-time track and field Olympian Martha Watkins. Nick Davidson, who formerly chaired the L.A. Watts Summer Games, serves as the USA City Games’ co-chair, along with Hall of Fame lacrosse coach, Ryland Huyghue.

In addition to the sports challenges, the pre-50th anniversary celebration will feature a mini fan festival, surprise entertainment, and an Opening Ceremonies program that will feature city officials, Olympians, celebrity athletes and special guests. The event will be hosted by KTLA sports anchor, Derrin Horton.

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and the L.A. City Mayoral Offices have been a part of the Games since its inception. This year’s games partners include Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit System. The USA City Games will be held in association with the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Supporters of the Games include L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. City Council Member Curren Price as well as former L.A. City Council Member Tom LaBonge.

Over 300,000 alumni have taken part in the L.A. Watts Summer Games including such notables as John Elway (NFL), Lisa Leslie (Olympian and WNBA) and Byron Scott and Michael Cooper (NBA), among the many alumni.

Concludes Janklow, President of the USA City Games, “This event is about changing lives. And, they mean so much to the city of Los Angeles. Competing at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home to two Olympiads, USC football and NFL clubs, will give these youth a sense of encouragement and pride. We appreciate the support from our partners, business and civic leaders, mentors, coaches and athletes. We are inviting the Los Angeles community to come out and celebrate these athletes and help us to proclaim June 17th as the day the Games came back—and we’d like them to continue for another 50 years and beyond.”

The tentative schedule for day is as follows:

9:00 am – Track & Field – 40 and 100 yard dash, Soccer, Basketball and Volleyball

11:00am – Opening Ceremonies with state, county and city officials, Olympians, celebrity athletes and surprise guests

12:00pm Track & Field – Long Jump, Basketball, Volleyball and Soccer

1:00pm – Football

2:15pm – Lacrosse

For free registration or more information on the USA City Games, please visit www.usacitygames.org.

Categories: Crenshaw & Around | Local | Sports
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