The facelift is important not just to residents of Woodside Houses, but users around the area. Four years ago, several community members decided to start a tournament called the Woodside Classics, which has had more than 200 participants and players from different neighborhoods.
Emanuel Malik Campbell, now 27, grew up in the Woodside Houses. He is one of the organizers of the tournament.
“Four years ago, when they came to me with this idea, I did not think we would be here at all. I thought he was crazy at first,” Campbell said of his friend Nate, who first came up with the idea.
Damages to the court have prevented many kids from participating. Some residents, including Campbell’s friends who help run the tournament, have even invested their own money to try to fix it up.
Campbell doesn’t just see the basketball court as a place to play. For many residents growing up in the public housing complex, it was a gathering place and community space.
“You could leave your kid here all day because the basketball court will babysit them,” he said.
Renovating the court is personal for Campbell, who said he has a lot of memories on the court.
“We used to come down here and have snowball fights on the court,” he said. “Besides basketball, [we were] engaging with each other, talking about and having debates about the NBA, college and high school.”
He said he hopes to set an example for the future court users.
“I hope the kids can have some of the best experiences we had,” Campbell said with a smile on his face. “I’m just glad to be here.”