Maywood Coach’s Dream Classic Basketball Tourney Has Diversity Fit For A King

Monday, January 21, 2019 || By Igor Studenkov || @maywoodnews

Featured image: Maywood resident and Marshall High girl’s varsity basketball coach Dorothy Gaters watches a game during her annual MLK Dream Classic Tournament. | Alexa Rogals

For the past 18 years, girls and boys basketball teams from public and private high schools all across Illinois have trekked to Marshall High School in Chicago for the MLK Dream Classic tournament.

The tournament is the brain-child of Maywood resident and Marshall High School’s Hall of Fame coach, Dorothy Gaters, who said that she wanted to create something that would honor the legacy of Martin Luther King.

She also wanted to provide a platform on which her players and players from other schools might catch the eye of college recruiters, and bring together communities that might otherwise never cross paths.

The three-day tournament, which takes place from Jan. 19 through Jan. 21, overlaps each year with Martin Luther King Day. The tournament’s 2019 sponsors included Nike. Last spring, Gaters starred in one of the company’s ads.

This year’s lineup included teams from Proviso East and Proviso West, along with teams from Chicago’s West Side, parts of downstate Illinois and even neighboring states. Players came from as far east as Michigan City, Ind. and as far north as Milwaukee. 

During an interview a day before the tournament kicked off, Gaters avoided singling out any team in particular, saying that many teams had great players.

The Mustang’s Amber Anderson (15) guards the ball from St. Joseph on Jan. 21, during the MLK Dream Classic basketball tournament at Marshall High School in Chicago. | ALEXA ROGALS

“We just have a lot of really good teams, both on the boys and girls side,” she said. “We have girls’ top teams from Indiana.”

Gaters said that she appreciated the sheer diversity of the tournament, which, she felt, was a fitting way to honor King’s legacy.

“This is a very diverse tournament,” she said. “We have a private school, we have suburban schools, we have public schools. It’s truly diverse.”

While many teams already had players signed to top schools like Notre Dame and Harvard, none of Gaters’ players have been signed yet.

“We hope that, as the byproduct of this tournament, coaches will come out and see the tremendous amount of talent that’s going to be displayed and hopefully our kids will get the attention and scholarships,” she said.

Gaters added that she hopes the tournament will have a positive impact on area young people, in general.

Gaters said that she wants her MLK tournament to be a platform to showcase both character and diversity in the athletes who participate in the annual event. | Alexa Rogals

“We want them to have sense of direction,” Gaters said. “[King and other civil rights activists] gave their lives so that young people can live a better lives. Hopefully, we can get some of the kids to redirect their energy into more positive goals.”

The coach said that the tournament featured more activities than the games themselves. The tournament’s health initiative offered blood pressure tests, information regarding teen diabetes, as well as financial aid advice.

“Each year, two students from Marshall receive an MLK scholarship,” Gaters added. “And that’s based on their academics and their character.”

The winner of the tournament was announced after this story went to press. Get tournament updates here. VFP

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