Umttr hosts annual basketball tournament


Organizers of the umttr basketball tournament held the event for the fourth year in honor of Evan Rosenstock. Photo courtesy Justin Kay.

By Naren Roy

Umttr, a locally-based nonprofit that works to prevent teen suicide, hosted its 4th annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament fundraiser at Whitman June 11. Aside from the competition, attendees placed bids at a silent auction fundraiser, listened to workshop presenters and met celebrities like professional basketball player Michael Sweetney.

20 teams competed in the double-elimination bracket. Teams largely consisted of students, parents, alumni and even county council members. Participants competed within four divisions: middle school, high school, under 50, and over 50.

After Churchill student Evan Rosenstock took his own life in May 2013, his friends and family held a basketball tournament in his honor. The tournament became an annual tradition and evolved into a umttr event.  

  “Not only do I mourn Evan, my son, but I mourn the person I used to be as well,” Sue Rosenstock, Evan’s mother and a umttr leader, said. “There’s an old saying that if you’re doing your passion, you never work a day in your life. It helps with the grief to see the success. ”

Umttr helps contribute financially to the running of several different programs like the Positive Coaching Alliance, aimed to reduce pressure and bullying in sports; Sources of Strength, a school-based suicide prevention program; and the Campaign to Change Direction, a national movement to end the stigma surrounding mental health.

“A lot of what we raise goes towards funding [Sources of Strength] because it’s the only evidence-based, proven effective, peer-led suicide prevention program in the nation,” Rosenstock said. “The [National Alliance on Mental Illness-Montgomery County] implements the program with grants from umttr so we have it now in ten schools in the county and more coming on board.”

Suicide is the leading cause of death for ages 10-14 and the third leading cause of death for ages 15-34 in Maryland, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The basketball game is only one aspect of the larger effort to spread awareness about mental health issues, tournament and umttr co-founder Justin Kay (‘15) said.

“After the first year of us raising $25,000, we came to the realization immediately after the first event that this was something that was sustainable,” Kay said.

Umttr accepts donations at each event and online.