Saturday, July 21, 2007


Some of you might think BB is shorthand for blackberry, but luckily, that's not what I'm writing about now. No, instead I'm talking about basketball at John Henry Beck Park in East Biloxi.

I don't play it and I don't watch it or follow it. But I certainly support what's going on in the park. A couple of our folks and former folks decided that it would be a great idea to start a league that uses the park. Kids from the surrounding neighborhood could come out to learn about the game and play. While getting the kids out to play ball, it also shows the courts are being used and that they shouldn't be torn down.

So with that as a back drop, I've dropped by twice now to see Dan and Eddie Sherman, Becca, Mike Grote, Caitlin Sherman, John Wildeman (also related to the Shermans) and others all leading kids in drills and scrimages. There are kids of all ages out there on the court. I think the youngest are 9 and the oldest are 17 (maybe it's 16). Either way, it's all about the kids on the court having a great Saturday morning.

Dan runs the teen program at the Boys and Girls club, so he's got some connections with the kids. Two weeks ago when I was talking with him about the practices, he said a lot of the kids don't know the basics of the game. They shoot, they dribble, and they're athletic, but they don't really understand the structure and the basics. When Dan learned to play, he learned through drills and scrimages. I figured the kids would just want to play, but no, they're really interested in beefing up their skills.

Eddie is just a competitive guy who can't not play. Of course he runs drills, but he's right there in the thick of things playing with big and little kids alike. It's pretty cool to see them all - Hands On folks and residents - out on the court.

I think it again illustrates the powerful impact we have on the place that we work. Here we are on the weekend in a rough section of town, playing ball with the kids. They have some place safe and structured to go on Saturday morning that's fun, educational, and interesting. It also illustrates what happens when folks have an idea and put it into action. Dan and Eddie decided the kids would love the opportunity to play, the park has a court, so voila ... just add some basketballs and you have a great story.

I'm proud and excited for what we do here. Though it's simple, it's important. It helps bring back the semblance of life that existed before Katrina. That's what this is all about.

1 comment:

Justin M. said...

i worked on the "shade pavilion" adjacent to the playground this summer with the university of minnesota architecture students and observed the "ballplayers" several times. although the kids were older than described here, and the games more competitive, it seemed very good natured. i've also heard that there was a plan to REMOVE the basketball court in the rear of the park. my question is, has anyone asked WHY the court with the map painted on it goes unused and the seemingly "older" court gets all the action? being a b-ball player myself, i'd bet that the response is "the larger, more 'pro' style backboards are the reasons. i also wonder if there isn't a less obvious reason, like it's location in a less visible spot that makes the teenagers more comfortable in some way...anyway, just wondering if anyone was asking the questions of the residents before further action gets taken in the "design" of the park.