YMCA prepares to unveil new outdoor court, more options for local children

Published 12:38 am Tuesday, April 11, 2023

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More than five years after Hurricane Harvey damaged the tennis courts, the YMCA of Southeast Texas is working to unveil a large, new outdoor area geared primarily at basketball and pickleball.

“We wanted an overflow area where people could come out,” said Sports Director Glenda Trainer. “We’re looking forward to it. It had been down for a long time. We always have a lot of kids in the gym for basketball. So it’s an outdoor, refreshing place.”

Construction of the 56-feet by 86-feet area began in March and is expected to finish within two weeks. Trainer said weather hits resulted in some delays.

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An employee for Sportscapers Construction, Inc., who was on site Monday, said contractors will be out every day from “sunup until 6 or 7 p.m.” until the court is ready.

YMCA employees had a roundtable discussion to see what they could do to replace the damaged tennis courts and viewed other parks in Port Arthur to create the concept of the outdoor court.

Half will be covered, and new lighting has been installed along the fence line.

Trainer said there will be approximately eight pickleball courts, which she described as tennis with a shorter racquet.

“A lot of our seniors are playing it,” she said. “And of course we can’t leave out the kids for basketball. We’re going to have different courts and areas where we can even do a little soccer or T-ball.”

The YMCA recently wrapped up its youth basketball program, in which 256 children participated.

“I think it’s tremendous when kids have the availability to a basketball court,” said Memorial High School basketball coach Alden Lewis. “The more space available for them is the best space.”

Lewis grew up playing basketball at the YMCA, and said giving kids access to such things as recreational sports makes it less likely for them to get involved in things they shouldn’t while also providing an outlet for healthy activities.

Trainer said the new court will be ready for Health Kids Day, scheduled this year for April 29.

“We have different games set up, volunteers and vendors,” she said. “They do fitness testing and all kinds of stuff. We have prizes and bounce houses. The parents and kids come as a family. We have fruit kabobs, snow cones and lots of healthy things.”

Healthy Kids Day, which has been a YMCA tradition for more than 30 years, is free to the public.