“I didn’t grow up playing in gymnasiums, I grew up as an outdoor kid and I had to rely on spaces available, like parks,” said Jerome Williams, president of Young3, a program that promotes healthy living and hosts basketball clinics for children.
Former professional basketball player Nancy Lieberman joined Williams and locals at the Recreation Center on Aug. 22 to announce the refurbishment of the Dream Court, a multipurpose play space that provides children with a safe place to shoot hoops and play games.
The Dream Court originally opened in 2013, after it replaced basketball courts that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Actor and Long Beach native Billy Crystal, and his wife, Janice, teamed up with Lieberman to bring the project to fruition and provide local children a place to learn about teamwork and sportsmanship. The Crystals donated $1 million to the city’s Relief Fund, which helped finance Sandy recovery projects like the Dream Court.
Lieberman, a Far Rockaway native and Basketball Hall of Famer, is no stranger to giving back. Her foundation, Nancy Lieberman Charities, runs basketball clinics and educational programs to help kids pursue their athletic dreams. In 2010, the foundation teamed with Sport Court International and the WorldVentures Foundation to start the Dream Court program, which builds high-quality basketball courts in disadvantaged areas.
“These are your courts, these are not my courts,” Lieberman said. “We want you to take care of them. We want you to build friendships, we want you to compete, we want inclusion, we want opportunity, we want gender equity. If somebody does not look like you, it’s OK.”
Lieberman teamed up with BIG3, Young3 and Adidas to refurbish the courts with new logos and paint to make it look new again.
“The logos and everything have been ordered, so maybe in about four to five weeks we’ll have everything finished,” said Traci Choate, a spokeswoman for Nancy Lieberman Charities.
More than two dozen children gathered on the courts to listen to Lieberman’s inspirational story about how she turned to basketball when she experienced rough patches during her childhood.
“When kids have a place to play, it keeps them away from a lot of other things, that, as parents and adults, we don’t want to see them getting involved in,” Williams said. “When you have Dream Courts and the Nancy Lieberman Foundation, not just putting courts here, but in cities all across the United States and the globe, it is a wonderful thing.”