Venus Hoops hosts charity game in support of TGAO

Jayden Xia, Staff Writer

Abhi Rathore (12) goes for a layup at the Venus Hoops charity game at Hilltop Park, Oct. 16. The event raised $120. Photo by Jayden Xia.

Coins clinked into a plastic jar labeled “TGAO” as Drake’s “Race My Mind” boomed across the asphalt basketball court. Spectators in lawn chairs shared pizza slices, lounging and chatting with their friends.

Venus Hoops faced off against Pluto Nightmares at Hilltop Park, Oct. 16, as a part of a charity basketball game organized by Venus Hoops Caleb Dang (12) and his co-founders Lawyer Mamari (12) and Ryan Moghaddas (12) from Del Norte.

Event organizers donated proceeds from raffle ticket sales, concessions, and wristbands to Heart for Heart, a non-profit started by Del Norte student and Venus Hoops’ player Isaiah Dinh (12).

“Basically, it is sending money to kids in Vietnam who cannot afford heart surgeries,” Dang said. “We thought that was really important because not only are a lot of us Vietnamese, we want to give back to our own community.”

In total, the event raised roughly $100.

Organizers also set up a tip jar to fundraise for Together As One (TGAO), an organization that advocates for social equality for the Jewish community.

Pluto Nightmares, much like Venus Hoops, formed as a ragtag group of students who sought out friendly competition without a pressurized setting.

“[Pluto Nightmares players] just wanted to have fun so they created their own team, and we would be a great matchup,” Mamaril said. “We got both teams together and had a great time.”

The name “Pluto Nightmares” itself is a spoof of “Venus Dreams,” drawing some good-natured criticism from Dang.

“[Pluto] really just saw our success and just tried to copy us,” Dang said. “But when you’re up at the top you tend to spawn a lot of imitators. We can play them, embarrass them, you know, at the game, and just really settled it out on the court.”

This event also allowed Venus Hoops to form closer ties to their community by presenting the public with a closer view of what they do, as both a business and a sports team.

“Typically from our Venus events, it would just be our close friends coming out, but we wanted to [host the game] for the community,” Mamaril said. “I mean, we knew a lot of people and tried to advertise as much as possible. We just want everyone to have a good time.”

Venus Dreams was originally founded on friendships that crossed school lines—some teammates attending Westview and others Del Norte—but this past event has helped to bring that spirit of inter-school relationships beyond the team and into the rest of the student body.

Dozens of attendees from Westview and Del Norte showed up to the game, each representing the team colors of both groups to cheer on their friends in an inviting, relaxing environment on the court.

“Before like any of this Venus basketball stuff even started, the relationship between Del Norte and Westview wasn’t too good,” John Nguyen (11) said. “But after [the charity game], our relationship will definitely be stronger.”

Public response to the event was overwhelmingly positive with observers specifically praising Venus’ strides to support a greater cause.

“I think it’s a good initiative for them because they started off just [as a group of] friends and now they’re in community events and I know they plan to do more,” event attendee Michael Braun (11) said. “I also think it’s great and that it’s here in [Rancho Peñasquitos].”

Spectator Darren Nguyen (11) said he admires the drive of young students in the community trying to make an impact.

“It was run by students, not like adults or anything, but they made [the game] happen,” Nguyen said. “I think it’s great that they try to do good [in the community].”