200 nets and counting- restoring pride in Dayton: the state of our courts address

We live in a basketball-loving community. We’ve got courts all over. More on the West side than the East side- but, they are there- and we’ve got players.

I’ve been giving kids shirts- for making three threes in a row. Yesterday- I parted with 4. One kid, since I didn’t have his size (he was a small, and the smallest I had was a large) wanted to give me back the shirt for $5- and wanted to shoot another three threes for another $5. Hustler. That was at Residence park, where a few dice and some dollar bills had the big boys off the court for a bit so the youngsters could play.

I need to raise more money so I can get more shirts. Note to self. All sizes- I also needed an XXL for a kid who was probably 12- who shot all of his nothing but net. I also need to take more pictures of these kids- to share the joy they get out of basketball, even if they are playing on courts that could use some serious love and attention. I just had to tell some guys that I can’t fix the rim at the W. Third Rec center- they’d have to go inside and ask someone to do it- we’ll see how long it takes the city. That’s one of the most popular courts in town.

Others that almost always have a game going: Wogaman schools 9ft rims which are back to back in the parking lot, Broadway and Superior, Princeton Rec Center- despite not being able to play a full court game any which way with 6 backboards.

Best courts in town

  • Dunbar High school- which I swept all the pebbles and broken glass off last night
  • The W. Third Rec center court- with its 4 shot-out lights.
  • Riverview- with two courts in the open- and the city took down my nets and put up new ones- after not putting any up for years.
  • The two courts in DeSoto Bass are functional- and usually open.
  • Stuart Patterson has two good rims and a fence – and even bleachers.
  • Rosa Parks school- rear- 2 courts in great shape with fences.

Best kept secret courts in town:

  • There are three courts out at Highview Hills park- and you could actually play 3 games on them- there are some cracks in the courts- but, not too bad. It’s really secluded in the back corner of the park- I don’t want to know what goes on back in the bushes behind them.
  • Parkside homes site has a double court and a single court- not a whole lot of people playing there.
  • Clairridge park on Webster up from the Kroc Center has a pretty good surface and is a nice setting.
  • Western Hills park- the court is surrounded on 3 sides by woods- and is a good place to be left alone. It has some benches for people to sit and watch.
  • Nordale park has water, a shelter and 2 courts that don’t get a lot of play.

Worst courts:

  • Burkham park has the lights on, but the backboards and rims are a disgrace- and mostly at 8 or 9 feet.
  • The court at Burkhardt park only has one backboard.
  • Gettysburg park- with weeds growing through the court, a backboard and rim so rusty that one kid told me “when you score you get rust in your eye”
  • EJ Brown elementary school where the nicest court in town took down the rims.
  • Rosa Parks elementary school- another brand new court- where people want to play- with only 1 rim on two backboards.
  • Salem Heights park- where it’s a dirt patch and a pole. ’nuff said.
  • Princeton rec center- where we have full-time employees- who can’t fix a rim or hang a net.
  • Mary Queen of Peace church- where there are 2 courts- but you can’t play a full court game. I took the weeds out, cut the bushes back- but, these forlorn courts need some love.

Basketball diplomacy

Yard signs cost more than nets. At first, the plan was I was only hanging nets on courts- but, I soon realized, that the kids were playing on roll-outs all over town- and most of them were sad. I thought, other candidates would spend money on yard signs- and stick them in people’s yards- which serve no real purpose other than for self promotion. Why shouldn’t I help the kids out- and the roll-out campaign began. I’ve even laughed when I realize these roll-outs move blocks away – as I’ve gone back and replaced the nets.

Lesson learned- I’ve never had a single person thank me for putting out a yard sign. I’ve had many for fixing and hanging a net.

Here’s some photos.

I’ve gone to barber shops and small independent businesses all over town and asked them to pitch in. Many have- and you can see them with their posters at www.HoopsDayton.org One of the interns who worked on the video hated the name “Hoops Dayton”- but, didn’t come up with a different name- so there it is.

For anyone wondering- the stencil is painted with washable water-based green paint. The nets are painted with florescent green paint from Rustoleum. The ladder I use is a folding Werner that weighs a ton. My friend at Insignia Signs, Mike Riley is the hero who lent it to me. I don’t know how I’d do this if it wasn’t for zip ties- even though they wear out the net faster than the hooks on the rims. Also- a big thanks to Jim Jabir, coach of the UD Women’s team- for his participation in the video. Others I was counting on opted out.

Two people bought a box of nets outright. One is Scott Hewitt who has come out and helped hang nets and clear weeds. The other, prefers to remain in the shadows (thanks Bill).  Thanks to Tuffy Brooks for having the nets for me too- buy local.

If there is one thing I believe after hanging 200 nets- it is that we can restore our pride in our city- one net at a time. I believe true economic development is the delivery of best in class neighborhoods, parks and quality of life- not by tax breaks or new buildings. I don’t believe in spending a quarter of a million dollars to get elected. This campaign is still capped at $10K and I have $4k left to raise. Donations are still needed. www.electesrati.com/donate-2

It still amazed me that Nan Whaley and AJ Wagner spent $360,000 to get 7,500 votes- or $50 a vote. They would have done better to just pay voters (yes, I know it’s illegal) $20 to vote for them- and they could have had double the votes and still had $60K left over- enough to buy new backboards and rims for every court in the city.

Please, tell your friends, share the video, talk about this campaign. It shouldn’t cost a million dollars to get elected in Dayton- and our kids shouldn’t have to play on broken down courts.

It’s time to restore the pride to Dayton.





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