WHITEHALL, Ohio (WCMH) — Week four of what organizers are calling ‘Thursday Night Thrillers’ is in the books. It’s an outdoor basketball league played at John Bishop Park in Whitehall.
“We knew the game of basketball would bring everybody together,” said Chaz Jefferson, a co-director of the league.
Antonio Gordon is the other director and organized a similar effort in Columbus last summer.
“Antonio and I, we grew up in these inner cities,” Jefferson said. “15, 16-years-old playing basketball all day, have friends that have chosen the wrong paths, so we just wanted to give back.”
Organizers said one of the goals of Thursday Night Thrillers is keeping kids out of trouble. They wanted other teens and community members to come and watch the local high school players, which is exactly what’s been happening.
“We all know opportunities can be limited, especially for teenage youth,” said Shannon Sorrell, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Whitehall. “The fact we have found partners that have brought a program to us that our youth want to be here and want to be active and having a positive impact in Whitehall is awesome.”
The Whitehall Division of Police has officers playing too. Sgt. Jon Early said the league’s been a success in its first year.
“The amount of people we have show up to the park every week is unbelievable. The spirit of everybody here is unbelievable,” he said.
With shoes given away earlier in the summer, free food for some, and a school supplies giveaway planned for later in the summer, it’s about more than what’s happening on the court.
“It’s a community event. We’re able to provide wrap-around services that can hopefully help someone in the future,” Jefferson said.
The last games of the season will be played on August 3rd.