UPDATE: Due to potential inclement weather, the ‘Help Stop The Violence’ game has been postponed tonight. NOTE: All Quest Gators’ home games in January are dedicated to raising awareness on violence in Peoria.
Quest said the next game will be at Woodruff High School vs. Roanoake Benson on Jan. 21.
PEORIA, Ill. — After a record year of violence in 2019, a local high school basketball team is raising awareness to stop the violence.
These players and coaches are showing that basketball is more than just a game.
The Quest Gators Boy’s Basketball program wants the community to stand with them for the ‘Help Stop the Violence’ game Friday night.
The Gators’ star player Isaiah Brown hopes to play college ball after graduation, but first, he wants to make a difference in his hometown.
“It makes me feel like, that’s something the people don’t see, they just see me out there playing basketball, but this means a lot to me,” Brown said.
Quest is dedicating all three home games in January to ‘Help Stop the Violence’, which Brown says has affected him right at home.
“When my cousin got killed, that really hurt me. So I got to come out right Friday night,” Brown said.
Brown’s teammate and friend Jamar McCall says it’s a great way to bring the community together for a good cause.
“It’s a night to relax. You don’t have to worry about anything, just go to the gym and hoop, just have fun. It makes me feel good because I’m turning negativity into positivity,” McCall said.
Brown says the Gators are like a family, and no matter what, they’ve got each others backs.
“It’s like brotherhood. If Jamar gets in trouble, I’ve got his back. If I get in trouble he’s got my back. He makes sure I stay on top of my grades. Not just in the classroom, but outside the classroom. Making sure we aren’t doing any knucklehead stuff,” Brown said.
Bradley hopes to play basketball in college. He says staying in Peoria and playing for Bradley University is a possibility.
Quest hosts Madison High School Friday night. JV plays at 5:30, varsity at 7:00 at Woodruff High School.
Quest Charter Academy’s Athletic Director Elmer Dickerson says the death of 4-year-old Jeremiah Ward last year made him realize he had to work to make a change in his community.
“I just can’t sit back any longer and not do anything, I have to do my part. And my part means that Quest is gonna do their part, and we are gonna step up,” Dickerson said.
“That was a senseless act of violence, for what? Was it territory, whatever it was, it was senseless for a 4-year-old to lose their life,” Dickerson added.
“It means a lot to us because Peoria hasn’t been doing good, killing babies and stuff. We’re just trying to prevent that and help the community come together as a whole,” Brown added.
Dickerson said he believes by creating change at Quest, will create a snowball effect of positivity throughout the city of Peoria.
“I’ve been telling the kids that with their influence, they can influence their friends, their families, and their community in stepping up. To make a promise that they won’t commit an act of violence,” Dickerson said.
“With them talking with their little brothers, explaining to them, ‘Use your words, instead of your fists.’ And when you use your words, use kind words,” Dickerson added.
Dickerson says it’s not only the violence in Peoria that bothers him but in the entire country.
“If I can make a difference with one kid. I think that one kid can be one family, that one family can be one block, one block can be one city, one city can be one state,” Dickerson said.
Players and coaches hope raising their voices against violence now will help the city for all of 2020.
Throughout the school day Thursday and Friday, Dickerson is handing out papers to school kids.
The papers show ‘My Promise’ across the top of them, where the students promise not to commit violent acts, respect those around them, and to think before they act.
The first ‘Help Stop the Violence’ varsity game is Friday night at 7:00 at Woodruff High School.