Donations provide basketball court for three youth teams

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A series of unfortunate events for some Flour Bluff youth teams has resulted in them finally getting a new basketball court after losing theirs last month.

First, something — or someone — broke a big hole in the basketball goal backboard.

Then the Navy asked them not to put in new ones, because their training ground was on Navy grounds in an accident potential area off nearby Waldron Field.

But now donations from local families and a Houston area foundation company have provided a new field in a different location for three youth basketball teams in Flour Bluff.

“I’m really excited,” said Kristen O’Brien, the youth teams coach. “It’s almost a dream come true, because we’ve wanted this for a long time.”

Originally, she wanted the city to place height-adjustable basketball goals in a park so that kids of all ages and from all over the Flour Bluff could come and play on them.

So far, that hasn’t happened, so O’Brien settles for the new courthouse at her home.

“Unfortunately (a basketball court in a park) couldn’t happen,” she said. “There’s no room for it. We’ve looked. We’ve looked at it. So, I mean, as far as the 20 or really 30 kids that I’m coaching right now here at The Bluff, this will just have to do it.”

Employees of Excell Foundations poured a 46-by-20-foot concrete slab Wednesday to serve as the courthouse.

The project would normally have cost the O’Briens two to three thousand dollars, but the son of the company owner says his father was happy to do the work for free once he learned of the situation.

“That’s never an issue with my dad, as far as donating for the kids and stuff like that,” said Bradley Chapin of Excell Foundations. “(We) are just making sure they can play somewhere.”

A basketball goal is mounted to the garage of O’Brien’s house at one end of the field. She is hopeful that her husband will be able to set a second goal in time – for which money has been paid – to organize training sessions on Thursday evening.

O’Brien has her own children on each of the three teams she coaches, and their seasons are off to a great start.

“When my kids go out on the track, you can tell they’ve practiced — they’ve worked hard,” O’Brien said. “Because they can already play basketball when they are five or six years old.”

Her eldest son was quick to express his gratitude to the workers building the court, and so did O’Brien — along with those who made donations to make it possible.

“I’m just really happy that they’re coming here and doing this for us,” said 11-year-old Patrick O’Brien. “I’m going to thank them very much before they leave.”

“I want to thank Excell Foundation for the record,” said Kristen O’Brien. “That was a big contribution, of course. And then The Danley Family, and then The Bourland Family, and then an anonymous donor who donated money to the cause. I want to thank them for all their help so we can make this happen. “

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