Nothing but net: Tabor grad’s summer league fills athletic void

Aug 3, 2021

MARION — Michael Pardo has been playing basketball off-and-on for his whole life. From pick-up games to the JV team at Tabor, he has always enjoyed playing the sport and the camaraderie that comes with it.

But for those that don’t make the next step to playing college ball, most organized sports stop after high school, leaving many casual players without an athletic outlet.

That lack of access to competitive sports led Pardo to call up his friends — and their friends, and their friend’s friends — and organize a summer league which quickly grew to over 60 players.

“I know a lot of kids in the area that still enjoy playing basketball but can’t get access to more competitive leagues or organizations,” he said. “So it’s kind of a way to play pickup but also make it a little more competitive at the same time.”

Pardo, a Tabor graduate whose father teaches history at the school, now studies entrepreneurship at Babson College in Wellesley but still comes back to Marion in the summer.

He said he knew he wanted the league to play at Silver Shell Beach, so he worked with Marion Recreation Department to figure out parking for players and find times when they could reserve the court for the league. He also collected payments from the 60+ players to pay the fees, something he said he’ll work out in advance next time.

“Next year, if we do it again I’ll definitely have to get all the payments in before the league starts,” he said.

Though Pardo was the mastermind behind the league, he had some help from his friends getting it started, especially Dylan Cantara of Fairhaven who volunteered to have jerseys made for the league on the cheap if they could name it after his podcast, the Embargo Show.

Thus the Embargo Summer League was born.

Cantara, who studies Finance and Management at UMASS Dartmouth, said that he charged $10 each for the jerseys which cost him about $15. He paid the difference as a way of marketing his podcast which he started in April and covers everything from sports to finance to mindset.

Besides the matching jerseys, the two have done a lot to make the league more than just pickup.

“We try to make the games as official as possible,” said Pardo. “We play 18 minute halves; we do free throws; we have volunteer refs… and we also have people doing scoreboard and keeping track of points for each player.”

Pardo has even set up an instagram account, @embargoleague, to post scores, schedules, and accolades like “player of the week.”

Cantara said that the league was so important because of the lack of activities in the area for young people post-high school.

“Pretty much after high school there’s nothing,” he said. “So we wanted to get something together that people past high school can participate in.”

Pardo and Cantara said that when they started organizing the league, they were hoping for enough players to field four teams but ended up getting enough for six right away.

“Hopefully next year we can expand it,” said Pardo. “A lot of kids in the league have already come up to me saying that they’ve talked to people from other towns that have heard of the league and want in on it. So hopefully next year we can get some more teams.”

Currently, there are three teams made up of players from the Tri-Town, two from Fairhaven and Acushnet, and one from Dartmouth and despite a range of skill levels, they have managed to stay fairly evenly matched.

“All the teams have been competitive,” said Pardo.

The league played its last regular season games last weekend but Pardo said they will be playing a single-elimination tournament next weekend, Aug. 6-8, to cap off the year.