When Mike Jones of Dallas took Landmark Educationâ€™s Self-Expression and Leadership program (SELP), he knew he wanted to make a difference in his community in a way that related to basketball and the community â€“ Jones works for ESPN, and formerly played basketball at Mansfield High School. He found his project in helping nearby James Madison High School, whose facilities werenâ€™t nearly as nice as those at Mansfield. How he brought two high schools together and put on a basketball clinic in the process was the subject of a number of newspaper stories, including this one in the Dallas Morning News.
A team effort for two squads
Mansfield players assist in makeover of Madisonâ€™s locker room
By Matt Wixon
Two months ago, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition documented a home renovation in Keller. On Saturday, it was time for Extreme Makeover: Locker Room Edition.
There were no television cameras at Madison, but the project was worth prime-time attention. Madison’s players and coaches renovated their cramped, outdated varsity and junior varsity boys locker rooms with help from some people they had never met: the basketball players at Mansfield.
“I liked the idea of bringing the two communities together,” Mansfield coach Richie Alfred said. “I think my kids don’t know how good they have it. We have very nice facilities, and I think sometimes we take it for granted.”
The Madison and Mansfield varsity and junior varsity boys worked with about 40 other volunteers on the project, which included sanding and painting lockers, tearing out carpet and installing tile, replacing a window-unit air conditioner, putting up blinds for the windows and installing space-saving desks and cabinets.
They also installed a trophy case, which could be of good use next month because Madison is No. 1 in the Class 3A state rankings.
“The locker room is going to be a whole lot better,” Madison senior forward Nick Moore said. “There’s a lot more room.”
The project was the idea of Mike Jones, a Dallas resident who works in advertising sales for ESPN. As part of a leadership development course in the fall, Jones created Basketball United, a volunteer organization with the goal of bringing people together through basketball.
Then he began looking for a project.
“I was driving around and looking at community centers and basketball areas,” said Jones, a 1992 Mansfield graduate. “Then I came up to Madison, and I saw the basketball team walking into the gym. I thought this might be perfect.”
Madison athletic director Ronald Johnson and principal Marian Willard liked the idea. So did Madison coach Damien Mobley, who had spent the last two seasons with his desk in a drab, cramped locker room.
Jones, who played for Alfred, knew he could get his former team involved. But he also knew he would need people to donate money, materials and time. Jones raised about $3,000 for materials and got Radio Shack to donate a flat-screen TV, a DVD player and a stereo system. He got JK’s Cuisine to cater breakfast for everyone and Pizza Hut to provide lunch.
Jones also made sure the day wasn’t just about renovating the varsity and junior varsity locker rooms. He set up a basketball skills clinic for the players, led by Cameron Hill, the former director of player development at Kentucky and head coach for the United States Basketball Academy. Hill’s father, former NBA head coach Bob Hill, gave a speech to the players during lunch.
“It was a great experience,” Mobley said. “The locker room looks great, and the kids not only had fun, they learned some things.”