By Dorothy J. Gentry
As a member of the Dallas County Juvenile Department Board of Directors, Judge Clay Jenkins recalls inspecting the different facilities throughout the city as part of his duties. “On one of my first inspections I saw an outdoor (basketball) hoop with a net hanging by one thread,” Jenkins remembers. “I said ‘Get these kids some nets.’ It means so much just to have a net.” Thanks to the Mavs Foundation, a juvenile department facility in southern Dallas will have much more than nets. They’ll have a full-fledged in-door basketball court complete with goals, nets, and more.
The Dallas County Youth Village’s state-of-the-art basketball court, sponsored by Sprite/Coca-Cola was unveiled virtually Wednesday with a net cutting, inaugural free throws, and a Mavs Academy virtual basketball clinic for the youth residing at the Village. The court is the Mavs Foundation’s 27th unveiling in the past 24 years It’s the goal of the Youth Village to help develop positive social skills in its residents through programming and mentorship, and the Mavericks hope the new court can be used as a tool for success during their journey.
“This is a gift to the youth and the DCJD – it’s our 27th court in the DFW Community and each one keeps getting better and better,” said Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall. “We care about their lives. We are here to help them learn and grow. We want to see them flourish. We want to show these young men of the Dallas County Youth Village that we care for them and are rooting for their success in life. “At the Mavs, we will continue to empower our youth, encourage them to dream big, and work collaboratively to build stronger communities,” Marshall said.
Darryl Beatty, chief of the Dallas County Juvenile Department, said he could see and sense the excitement in the youth about the court and the basketball drills and other activities scheduled. “We talk about all they need is a little help, little hope, and someone to believe in them,” Beatty said. “This (court) shows that the Mavs believe in the youth of Dallas County,” Beatty said the renovated gym will serve as a multi-purpose facility, hosting family events, sporting events, and city and community celebrations. “It really can change lives when we invest in young people.”
The Village Court was renovated with 7,000 sq. ft. of sports court provided by NexCourt, new Mavs paint, and color scheme provided by PPG, six new basketball rims and backboards, safety inspected wall pads, and a fully functioning scoreboard and scorers table to host official games for the Dallas County Juvenile Team. In addition, the new court has been marked with encouraging words of wisdom: “Be Positive, Be Ambitious, Be Driven.” “We want to invest in these youth, see them grow, learn and become the best they can be,” said Katie Edwards, president of the Mavs Foundation. “If we can provide some part of that, if we can provide a gym where they can work together, play together, have fun together but also learn about discipline, about sportsmanship, teamwork, all of those things that makes sports such a wonderful thing for our youth, it’s worth it.
“It’s such a great honor to add to that critical programming that is happening here at the Youth Village so these young men can become who they are meant to be.” 305th District Court Chair for Dallas County Juvenile Board Cheryl Shannon said the importance of the new space and its impact on the youth at Village can’t be underestimated. “Having an opportunity to come to the park and play basketball is just phenomenal for our young people and just being able to engage and have a good time apart from the program,” she said. “Just to be able to go back to those basic, fundamental, great things, that’s what this court offers them. “We can’t underestimate the value of the camaraderie and the exercise they will get on the court,” Judge Shannon continued. “Here we have the opportunity for our young people to engage in the game of basketball; something that is familiar. We know that the game itself provides hope, the certainty of better things to come, and great joy.
The Mavs Foundation has brought joy and “something familiar to our youth,” said Judge Shannon. “A good basketball game is good for the mind, the body, the heart and the soul. Thank you, Dallas Mavericks for the investment in our youth.” Over the past 24 years, the Mavs Foundation has provided grant funding totaling more than $6 million dollars to nonprofit organizations serving women, children, and families in need. In addition to grants, the Mavs Foundation has built 46 safes Learn & Playspaces throughout the North Texas community, including 27 basketball courts and 19 Reading & Learning Centers. These spaces are designed to encourage healthy living and provide a safe place for children and residents, as well as expand learning opportunities and access to technology to support youth education programs, teen and adult job-skill training, and other critical programs.