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The Press Box: Enjoy Your Park

By Ed Parsons - Editor | Jun 23, 2021

There is a lot to do this year compared to last years COVID restrictions. I would recommend that kids get outdoors and hit the area ball fields and courts. Get outdoors and enjoy the good weather while you can. Last week while riding through New Martinsville I noticed the outdoor basketball court at Bruce Park was being put to good use. All four baskets were being used and several players were standing around waiting. Also the tennis courts were both in use. It was one of those warm nights where you just want to be outside doing something. Kind of reminded me of the old days in Paden City when we had to win to stay on the court.

Our little court behind the high school was active all day long and into the night during summer breaks from school. The old tennis courts behind the fieldhouse was also used quite frequently.

There were some great summer basketball leagues back then in Paden City, Sistersville, and New Martinsville. I remember playing in a nice league in Middlebourne a couple years as well.

What strikes me weird is the lack of willingness of some communities to make ball courts and exercise areas available. And when they do, they put great restrictions on everything. One of the best times to play outdoor ball is when the sun goes down and the lights come on. Paden City had lights at the high school court, you had to shimmy up the pole to throw the switch, but they worked and no one seemed to care how long you stayed. We would often play from morning to way past dark. Never seemed to bother anyone and the more that showed up the better.

Sometime in the 1970’s they built the courts at the city park and for many years it was the place to be during summer months. The summer basketball league not only consisted of local teams, but teams from other communities including Parkersburg joined in. The competition was tough. We had good businesses sponsor teams and the city kept the lights on so we could play. It seemed to be the same in New Martinsville and Sistersville.

In Paden City, that has all changed! Somewhere along the line, someone got the bright idea that the park must be closed at dark. No lights at the basketball court, the tennis court is now gone, fence removed and nets missing. Lights are still in place, but don’t count on them being turned on, in fact the last I heard they were going to remove them and place them somewhere else in the park.

Yes things change with time, but opportunities for exercise shouldn’t, they should be top priority. Whether it’s lighting up the walking trail for those who walk after dark or keeping lights available for ball players to play, it makes no sense to limit the park to the people it belongs to.

Every community should make sure they have parks and recreation.

Good parks, nice playgrounds, music in the park, swimming, camping, boat docks, rest areas, clean restrooms, ball fields, and ball courts, attract people. Many people move to communites who provide great parks. They along with hometown schools are the lifeblood of the community.

My advice for young and old is to get outdoors and stay active. For students looking to improve on their athletic skills, hit the ball fields and ball courts. Play everyday, find an active community and use their facilities. The only way to get better is to practice. The old saying, “practice makes perfect” still rings true today. One thing for sure, you won’t get better without practice.

I watched one young person who struggled to make his team a few years back. He was a junior and never got much playing time. He worked on his game the whole summer prior to his senior season. That year he averaged 19 points a game and was the captain of the team. It’s like everything else in life, your reward is what you put into it. Even if you aren’t interested in sports, the city parks can still be a great place to hang out. Maybe you like to fish or swim, chances are your park will offer those as well.

Where ever you live it’s the responsibility of the town to provide these opportunities for the residents. Make no mistake, if they aren’t available it’s because someone has failed along the way. Whether it’s through lack of funding (which is often used as an excuse) or it’s from procrastination and lack of following through on promises to make things work.

I want to mention that Sistersville has one of the nicest swimming pools for a small community in the entire area. It always has a nice crowd and is as clean as a whistle. And they still have one of the best summer basketball leagues, so if your looking for a place to play, try Sistersville city park. They do a great job with limited funds, and a hard working city crew.

To the local communities, if your parks are clean, active, and the pools are open, congratulations. These are great gathering places for people of all ages. They should be safe places to go and enjoy, and well lit up, with safe playground equipment and patrolled regularly by those in charge. Make the parks a place all will want to visit and enjoy.