After surveying the renovation of the gymnasium at the Dallas County Juvenile Department’s Youth Village, Darryl Beatty was absolutely taken aback.
Unveiled Wednesday during a virtual Court Dedication by the Mavs Foundation, the state-of-the-art gymnasium is a place where youths ages 10-17 can go and have some fun in their temporary home away from home. And it already has become the apple of Beatty’s eyes.
“I’m here in this renovated gym, and my oh my is it lovely,” said Beatty, the chief of Dallas County Juvenile Department. “In talking with some of our youths, they are excited to get ready.
“We appreciate all that the Dallas Mavericks Foundation has contributed, as well as (Mavs owner) Mark Cuban and (president of the Mavs Foundation) Katie Edwards and (chief executive officer) Cynt Marshall.”
This marks the third time the Mavs Foundation has renovated a gymnasium for the Dallas County Juvenile Department.
“One of the things we talk about is that all youth need is a little help, a little hope and someone to believe in them,” Beatty said. “And so, we really appreciate y’all’s contribution, because it shows that the Dallas Mavs Foundation — paired with the Juvenile Department — believe in our youth of Dallas County.”
Sponsored by Sprite/Coca-Cola, the 7,000-square-foot sport court was provided by NexCourt, and includes six basketball goals, safety inspected wall pads, a scoreboard and scorer’s table to host official games for the Dallas County Juvenile Team. It also is decked out in the Mavs’ paint and color scheme provided by PPG, with Pro Players Foundation and Briggs Equipment providing the construction equipment.
In addition, written on the court includes words of wisdom from the Mavericks that read: “Be Positive, Be Ambitious, Be Driven.” The whole project is much appreciated by Cheryl Shannon, who is the 305th district court chair for the Dallas County Juvenile Board.
“Changes have impacted us in so many profound ways, but in the midst of unprecedented times the one thing that has not changed is the commitment of the Mavericks Foundation to the youth of Dallas County, and in particular for today, the youth involved in the Dallas County Juvenile Department,” Shannon said. “I don’t think any of us can really relate in any way to what it would be like to be placed away from our families in a residential setting. We know that the game (of basketball) itself provides hope, fun, remembrances, and then certainly better times to come and bring joy.
“So on behalf of the Dallas County Juvenile Board, I thank you, I thank the Mavericks Foundation for bringing a little bit of joy and something familiar to our youth. A good basketball game is good for the mind, the body, the heart and soul, so I thank you for your investment in our young people. Your organization has constantly supported our department.”
Making a huge investment and supporting the Dallas/Fort Worth communities are constants that are woven into the bedrock of the Mavs’ organization. And what the Mavs Foundation was able to accomplish in regard to sprucing up the Youth Village will give those youth several memorable reasons to smile.
“On behalf of the Mavericks, we are so honored to be able to be here to present this gift – and truly it is a gift – to the Dallas County Juvenile Department and the youth that are residing in the Youth Village,” Marshall said. “This is the 27th basketball court that the Mavs Foundation has renovated in the DFW community throughout the past 24 years. Each one keeps getting better and better, so I want to thank Katie Edwards. . .and her amazing team, for the work they are doing in the community. They just keep taking us to new levels.
“I want to thank Coca-Cola and Sprite for their continued support in building these basketball courts for us, and being a part of what we do. This project is so important to the Mavs Foundation because we care about these young men. We care about their futures, we care about their lives, and we are here to help them learn and grow. We want to see them flourish, so we want to see them complete their program.”
As representatives of the Mavs Foundation were searching for their next court to renovate, uniting with the Dallas County Juvenile Department was a no-brainer.
“We really wanted to make this investment in those youths,” Edwards said. “We really want to see them grow, we want to see them learn, and we want to see them become the best that they can be.
“And if we can provide some part of that, if we can provide a gym where they can work together, where they can play together, where they can have fun together — but also learn about discipline, about sportsmanship, about team work – all of those things that makes sports such a wonderful thing for our youth – it’s such a great honor for us to be able to add to that critical programming that’s happening there at Youth Village to make sure that these young men can become who they’re meant to be.”
Besides basketball, Beatty said the renovated gymnasium will also be used for other sporting everts, as well as for meetings, and Hispanic Heritage and Black History Month celebrations. Marshall, meanwhile, said her message to the kids at Youth Village is three-fold.
“Dream big, have big, big dreams,” she said. “There’s so much out there for you. Stay focused on doing the right thing. There is a difference between doing things right and doing the right thing. And then, make a positive difference in your communities. We are counting on you.
“You’re not just our future, but you are our present. One day you will strengthen what is right and you will fix what is broken. We believe in you, we are counting on you, have fun on this court. Use it to learn lessons that will serve you on and off the court. You will learn a lot on that court, and then be able to use a lot of it in life.”
Dallas County judge Clay Jenkins recalls a time when he was inspecting the Youth Village, and there was a basketball net attached to a rim and simply hanging by a single thread.
“I said, ‘Get these kids some nets,’ because I remember as a kid it means so much to a kid if you’ve got a net,” Jenkins said. “I’m smiling all through this whole thing because I’m watching this young man shoot free throws down here at the bottom of my Zoom screen, and I love this. I love what the Mavs do.”
And that’s not all that Jenkins loves about the Mavs.
“While a lot of people where just looking at their navels after Mr. (George) Floyd was murdered and after this movement for more justice in our country sprung out, the Mavs sprung into action in a big way,” he said. “I found myself at times following Cynt and Mark and the team, and I found myself working more closely with them probably more than any other business.
“Thus, the high point for me when I tour this place is to see that court and know that at least in that regard our kids have something better than most kids have out there in their school, and I love that.”
So does Beatty.
“I think this is really a great example of how you give back to the community,” Beatty said. “They say that a community that cares about kids shows it by what they do and what they give back.
“So this goes a long ways to show that the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Mavericks Foundation care about our youth.”