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Open gym offered twice a week at Bobby Ray
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American Legion Post 208 offers an open court for basketball at Bobby Ray Elementary’s gym twice a week, Wednesdays beginning at 6 p.m. and Sundays beginning at 2 p.m. Admission is a donation of $1. Spectators are admitted free. Pictured is Brooklyn Bain with the ball. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

For residents seeking an alternative to shooting hoops at the Civic Center during its closure, Wayne Wolford has a solution. 

“We offer an open court at Bobby Ray Elementary School on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m.,” Wolford said. “American Legion Post 208 sponsors it and all the proceeds go to the school. All we ask is a $1 donation if you are going to play. Spectators are allowed in free. I don’t charge the younger kids.”

The original location was Warren County Middle School’s gym. A change in administration ended that relationship and, alley-oop, Bobby Ray’s principal stepped up to assist American Legion in providing the public service. 

“The school system renovated Bobby Ray’s gym about two years ago,” said Wolford. “We have heat in there now, new floors, new bleachers, new lobby, new bathrooms. It’s nice in there now. On Wednesdays, there’s usually about 15 or so, On Sundays there can be up to 30-something. For the younger kids, I’ll let some of the goals down for them.”

Good sportsmanship – respect for fellow team members and members of the opposing team – is a must.

“I love the game and the sportsmanship of it,” said Wolford. “I don’t allow any arguing or anything like that. We have a system to how we play and everybody understands it. If there’s a disagreement, I deal with it. I’ll take the ball. If they want the ball back, they have to calm down and figure it out. It works every time.” 

Post members have been offering an open court for basketball players for approximately 20 years. On Sunday, Feb. 24 at 2:30 p.m. American Legion Post 2018 members will be at Bobby Ray’s gymnasium to introduce themselves and take pictures with the basketball players.

“The players always see me,” said Wolford. “I think it would be nice for them to meet some of the other post members who make this possible.” 

The open court times can be lengthy. Wednesdays can last up to 8 p.m., while Sundays can last till 7 p.m.