Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

More Than Different: Men’s basketball guard hosts summer tournament for scholarships

Colin+%28left%29+and+Brendan+McNamara+%28right%29+after+their+second+annual+MTD+Tournament.
Courtesy of Brendan McNamara
Colin (left) and Brendan McNamara (right) after their second annual MTD Tournament.

Appreciate. Celebrate. Elevate.

Those are some of the key tenets that guide More Than Different, a lifestyle brand founded by Emerson men’s basketball guard Brendan McNamara and his brother, Colin. They are also the values aligned with the second annual MTD Basketball Tournament, which the brothers held in Medford’s Dugger Park on Aug. 19.

The tournament involved eight teams of current and former collegiate players in addition to a few elite high school participants. It was a single-elimination style, with consolation games awarded to first-round exits.

Brendan, a Business of Creative Enterprises major, and Colin, a WPI alum who juggles the business with a full-time job, discussed how the MTD tournament came to be.

“It was something we always wanted to do, because we try to separate the brand from basketball,” Brendan said. “It’s a lifestyle brand and it’s something that embodies who Colin and I strive to be. Basketball is an integral part of our lives, and we thought [the tournament] would be such an effective way to bring a big community of people together, promote our business, [and] have a fundraising initiative.”

“We’d have check-ins and syncs about what is finalized and what is still outstanding as far as what had to [be] done before the tournament,” Colin said. “It was sort of like a punch list, and by the tournament they were all checked off. We had some great help along the way, with our family and friends, and Brendan took it upon himself to frontload a lot of the work with respect to finalizing teams, fishing for sponsors, and securing permits.”

Brendan also noted how the event offered the perfect environment for basketball.

“In the basketball world, you don’t always get to see people in a casual, community setting,” he said. “The rapport of the whole day was really special. Being able to interact with so many people in a way that extends beyond basketball is what it’s all about. Building relationships, building memories—that’s what makes the day so special.”

The tournament is a non-profit that raised money for a college scholarship fund that students apply for in the fall. Last year’s tournament garnered two $1500 scholarships, a noble goal that the brothers plan to meet this year and beyond.

“You always want to give back,” Brendan said. “You always want to remember where you’re from and allow people to tell their own story. [We want to] reward them for being who they are and embracing what being ‘More Than Different’ is all about.”

Though the exact details and deadline are soon to be released, McNamara noted that the application would include a 500-word essay “within the framework of ‘More Than Different’.”

What exactly does it mean to be “More Than Different?”

“When you see more in yourself, you see more in others,” McNamara explained. “It’s about being authentic and ambitious … We’re offering a pretty open-ended question that is within the framework of ‘More Than Different’ and that lifestyle paradigm.”

The second year of the MTD Tournament involved unfinished business. Despite success in its inaugural year, the semi-finals were rained out, leaving the throne vacant for another year. This past summer, among eight elite squads, Colin and “Team Green” prevailed.

McNamara noted that organizing the tournament was made easier through the people he and Colin knew in New England, from years of AAU experience to Colin’s playing days at WPI.

The two also learned several lessons that made this summer’s showing one to remember, notably the opportunity for pitching, fundraising and acquiring sponsors. The tournament’s sponsors include Gold Standard Hoops, Menotomy Grill and Tavern, Brunt Workwear and A Shot for Life.

“This year, we had a bit more leverage,” Brendan said. “It’s still harder getting people to commit to a summer Saturday. A lot more people came to us, saying, ‘We want to put a team in.’”

Brendan touched on how his Emerson education has allowed him to apply lessons from the classroom to the court. One of the courses he took last semester was the “Creative Collaboration Seminar” with professor Nerissa Williams, where the group projects opened his eyes to the moving parts of event planning.

“This time around, we were way more organized and deliberate about getting things done in an orderly manner,” Brendan said. “As we approached the summer and the end of my freshman year, I was very confident and ready to take on this tournament, because I felt I gained more skills.”

A common question the duo asks on their podcast is, “What does success look like for you in five years?” Both suggested expanding the tournament to include women’s, high school and potentially youth basketball.

“We still want to hone in on our main product and enhancing that with our main tournament, but [we’re] definitely adding a women’s tournament as soon as possible,” Brendan said. “I’d just love to do more with it. People want spaces where they can come out and play … Maybe we can get a nice indoor venue and it can be a whole weekend thing.”

Colin added to the expansion idea, raising the possibility of a 16-team format and the addition of live music.

“We want to expand this event in order to raise money that will help build the next generation of leaders in their life ventures moving forward,” he said. “We want to continue to spread our lifestyle, expose more and more people to the brand, with the idea to expand from a bootstrapped company out of our Arlington Basement to a well established lifestyle brand in New England. We’ll get there.”

The McNamaras thanked their family and friends, whose support made the tournament possible.

“Those are the people that make this worth it,” Brendan said. “When it all pays off and people appreciate you for the work you do and want to support, that makes you want to do it ten times harder. Right now, we have momentum we’ve never really had, and it really would not be possible without our family, friends, and all the other people who have heard about ‘More Than Different’ along the way. If you’re new to it, welcome aboard. And if you haven’t, we’ll find you soon.”

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About the Contributor
Jordan Pagkalinawan, Kasteel Well Bureau Chief
Jordan Pagkalinawan (he/him) hails from Burbank, California, and serves as The Beacon’s Kasteel Well Bureau Chief. A sophomore journalism student with a minor in Sports Communication, he was the sports editor for the Fall 2023 semester and a sports staff writer for most of his first year. Overseeing The Beacon’s operations in the Netherlands, Jordan is committed to elevating high-quality pieces of narrative and multimedia journalism. When he isn’t working for the Beacon, Jordan can be found listening to various genres of music, playing, watching, and writing about basketball, and exploring local bookstores and cafes.

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