Helpful Neighbors: Stillman Hosts YMCA Summer Hoops Games

Rain Damage at Benjamin Barnes Gym Brings Y League to Campus


By David Miller

Water infiltration to a wood basketball court can be catastrophic, with damages ranging from delamination to warped boards.

The repairs can be expensive and exhaustive. Practices and games are suspended indefinitely. Teams must begin searching for alternative venues.

A group of black children play basketball on an indoor court
Twenty teams from the Ben Barnes YMCA basketball league played each Saturday in July at Stillman College.

Such was the case for the youth basketball summer league teams at the Benjamin Barnes YMCA earlier this summer, when rainstorms caused a leak in the roof of their gym, resulting in water damage along the baseline of the court.

The league, however, would find a new venue just a mile away: Stillman College. The league’s 20 teams played 10 games each Saturday over four weeks in July at Stillman’s Birthright Auditorium.

“It was a great opportunity for The Y to have a place to play, and for us to have them here,” said John Teasley, fifth-year head coach of Stillman’s men’s basketball team. “And [The Y] has been good to us in the past – when our floors have been redone in the past, they’ve opened their gym to us. We use it every year.”

Stillman’s venue and location were familiar to many players and their parents, as Stillman basketball frequently hosts youth basketball camps. YMCA coaches also found a familiar home at Birthright, as several former Tigers roamed the sidelines for teams this summer.

For Stillman basketball alumnus Torrance Beard, coaching a YMCA summer league on campus was more sentimental than he could have imagined. Beard had the chance to coach his son, Torrance, Jr., on a team this summer.

Torrance, head basketball coach at Minor High School in Birmingham, signed on to coach fourth and fifth-graders at The Y after his son started playing.

“Once we found out Stillman would be involved, I told my son, ‘you get to play on the court I got to play on,’” Torrance said. “He was so excited. We still talk about it.”

Torrance, whose high school team works out three days each week, was initially worried about adding youth practices and games to his schedule, but “once we got going, it was a breath of fresh air.”

“The young kids are sponges,” Torrance said. “I can recall, first or second practice, I was showing them something and only had to do it once. It’s a different method of teaching, but it’s been a joy, almost like a rejuvenation.”

Stillman will expand its community basketball footprint in Tuscaloosa in December, when Torrance will coach his Minor High squad in a game against Hillcrest High School.