The legacy of the 2021 NCAA women’s basketball championship grew Thursday with a new public basketball court unveiled on the city’s East Side.

The court, decked out in popping colors and “Final Four” graphics, opened to the public on Thursday at the Eastside Boys and Girls Club off Martin Luther King Drive. Funding was partially provided by the NCAA Women’s Basketball organization alongside other groups.

“I could have never imagined what was once a rundown tennis court being transformed into a world-class basketball court for club kids, and the entire community, to enjoy,” said Ada Saenz, interim director of the Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio, at the opening. “This park could be the spark that changes a young person’s life.”

Draedyn Daniels shoots the ball while playing on a newly dedicated basketball court at the Boys and Girls Club Eastside branch on Thursday. The Nancy Lieberman Charities’ Dream Courts program, San Antonio Sports, the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation and the NCAA teamed up to build the new court near Martin Luther King Park.
Draedyn Daniels shoots the ball while playing on a newly dedicated basketball court at the Boys and Girls Club Eastside branch on Thursday. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

Among the young people planning to use the court is 9-year-old Draedyn Daniels, who said he plays basketball every day in hopes of one day becoming a player in the NBA. Daniels, who normally plays in the court inside the Boys and Girls Club building, said he likes the colors of the new court.

The park is located in a zip code ranking in the city’s bottom quartile for average household income, according to U.S. Census figures.

The dedication ceremony featured former WNBA player Nancy Lieberman, who sunk the court’s debut shot with a backward-facing, catapult-style throw from half-court. It took several attempts. Lieberman is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and a two-time Olympic athlete.

Former basketball star Nancy Lieberman helps Khalil Mingo spin a ball on his finger during a dedication ceremony of a basketball court at the Boys and Girls Club Eastside branch on Thursday. The Nancy Lieberman Charities’ Dream Courts program, San Antonio Sports, the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation and the NCAA teamed up to build the new court near Martin Luther King Park.
Former basketball star Nancy Lieberman helps Khalil Mingo spin a ball on his finger during the dedication ceremony of a new basketball court at the Boys and Girls Club Eastside branch on Thursday. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

Funding for the court and related park improvements came from the Nancy Lieberman Charities, the NCAA Women’s Basketball organization, and San Antonio Sports. Additional funding came from the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, which is part of the San Antonio Area Foundation.

“Dream Court” is emblazoned on the court’s center circle. It is the 37th school park that has been improved and made public by San Antonio Sports. The organization’s park program started in 2012.

Russ Bookbinder, president and CEO of San Antonio Sports, said the NCAA tournament “breathed new life” into the city through more than $27 million in direct spending, as well as providing an inspiration to the city’s young athletes.

Disclosure: The San Antonio Area Foundation is a San Antonio Report business member. San Antonio Report publisher Angie Mock was involved with this project in her former capacity as CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio.

Waylon Cunningham

Waylon Cunningham writes about business and technology. Contact him at waylon@sareport.org.