Approximately 100 people watched in anticipation as Mayor Tony Scully and basketball legend Nancy Lieberman cut the ribbon for the new Dream Court basketball gym at the Jackson Teen Center on Tuesday, August 30.
The Jackson Teen Center is a part of the Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands, they have been in need of an improved basketball gym for decades. The gym had carpet as a floor, two basketball goals and white and tan walls with peeling paint.
Tyasa Kennedy, Dorian Hagins, Be’Yonce Thomas and Quaheem Stewart attend the Jackson Teen Center and they talked about the new gym versus the old gym.
The goals were too high and the lights were not as bright in there as they are now, the teens chimed in. They say they want to work hard and be able to play better basketball in there.
Remember, the gym floor was carpet, they said.
“We’re thankful to have the new court,” Kennedy said.
According to the WorldVentures website, “Dream Courts are state-of-the art outdoor play spaces where children in low-income communities can shoot hoops and build life skills such as teamwork.” This was the 29th DreamCourt installed in the U.S., but it was installed inside, not outside.
Nancy Lieberman is a Basketball Hall of Famer, two-time Olympian and Assistant Coach to the Sacramento Kings (second woman in NBA history to coach an NBA team), and her charity, Nancy Lieberman Charities helped have the court installed.
Brian Mayes is the director of Jackson Teen Center, and he talked about the process of getting the court.
“Carter Clark, our C.E.O. and our board asked me to put together a needs list. We needed a gym without carpet, and new goals. Most of the $80,000 was raised in this community,” Mayes said.
He said they started working on the floor of the new gym a few months ago. He went on to say that the children needed this to play better basketball. He calls them his kids.
“A few of my kids don’t have an adult that believes in them,” Mayes said.
Nancy Lieberman reiterated that kids need that, and so much more.
“These kids need to see somebody that looks different than them, but with a similar story. I know what it’s like to have to want,” Lieberman said. “If you’re around a bad crowd, you cannot succeed, it’s okay to get out and pursue higher education or sports: the sky is the limit.”
The JCT is very sports oriented, but Mayes said education is key.
“They can have anything at their disposal, as long as they do what they’re expected to,” Mayes said.
After the presentation was done for the new court, and community leaders talked about the benefits of this new gym, and after the ribbon cutting, there was a scrimmage game between the older men in the community and the younger men in the community on the new court. The older men won, 68-62.
In the future Mayes plans to get air conditioning for the gym, and utilize it for more than basketball , including activities such as volleyball and gymnastics .
“Ever since the U.S. girls won the gold for gymnastics at the Olympics, my kids have been fascinated with gymnastics,” Mayes said.