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People of Preston People of court 1

People of Preston is a campaign created to share the stories behind the faces that have shaped Western Kentucky University’s Raymond B. Preston Health and Activities Center over the years. The regular patrons and students are who make up the face of our facility. This campaign allows for our program to build trust and relationships with already loyal members to hopefully connect personally with even more of our Bowling Green community.

Story by: Hayley Robb

The first squeaks and scuffles heard walking through the doors of the Preston Center and the first people seen passing through the turnstiles are the players of Court 1.

Basketball court number one is the first full court located in the Preston Center main gym. It used to be the only court patrons were allowed to play a full court game on. Now it is home to only the best competition and hails as the sanctuary for WKU pick-up basketball.

“Anytime you’re looking to run for a long period of time, a good pick up game is always Court 1,” Junior Zach Stewart said. “Basically, it’s the NBA, the next court over is overseas, and the next one over is your, I don’t know, backyard pickup games.”

Candice Douglas, the Assistant Director of Facilities at the Preston Center, said that Court 1 used to be insane.

“You would think they were fighting for a spot in the NBA, like there were recruiters standing on the sidelines," Douglas said.

However, Court 1 has actually declined in hostility over the last five years and started to calm down, Douglas said.

She said she took on the role of taming the craziness of Court 1 when she started her job with WKU in 2013. She said her goal was just to make sure students realized there were regulations and consequences for their athletic performance on the Preston Center gymnasium floors.

Douglas said she made it mandatory for her facility student supervisors to complete a walk through of the building during the most popular game times, 3 to 7 p.m.

Facility supervisor and junior Brad Hutsell said he can remember back to when Court 1 began to change. He said around the spring semester of his sophomore year, the older guys were starting to graduate and the ruckus left with them.

Hutsell said he doesn’t see as many upperclassmen on the floor at all anymore.

“They feel like that Preston Court 1 is not how it used to be,” Hutsell said. “They don’t feel like the competition level is as high as it used to be. The skill level has taken a decrease as well.”

Douglas has gone to several measures to make sure the players keep it clean from shutting down every single basketball court and raising the goals for the day to suspending individuals from the facility for weeks.

She said you can’t shut down one court because the players will just move to the next court over, failing to learn their lesson. However, shutting down every basketball court penalizes everyone else properly using the gymnasium.

Freshman Eric Sylvas and sophomore Matius Jackson said the trash talk on Court 1 is inevitable no matter who is playing, but they try to keep it fair by shooting for the ball when there is a discrepancy in the call.

“They just like complaining,” Sylvas said. “If we winning, they like complaining. So they’ll do anything they can to make a bogus call. You know, it’s Court 1 stuff.”

Douglas said the students that play on Court 1 are good kids. She said she can relate to them being an athlete herself once, but there are just some things that can’t be compromised. Dunking is no exception.

Douglas remembered a time about four years ago at the end of the school year when the men’s basketball team was on Court 1 playing. She said it was like everyone of Court 1 had come together to beat the men’s basketball team.

“It was probably the prettiest dunk I’d seen,” she said.

A player tossed an alley-oop from middle court when another young man caught it and dunked the ball in. As soon as he dunked he turned to Douglas and said, “I’m sorry, Ms. Candice, I’m sorry. I just couldn’t help it, I had to.”

Douglas said she let him finish game and he promised he would leave as soon as it was over.

As promised, as soon as the game was over, Douglas said he walked over to the sideline, picked up his clothes, said, “Thank you” and walked out the door without any arguments.

Douglas said that was one of the better moments.

She has hope that the hostility of the Court 1 will continue to decline as it has since she arrived to the Hill and she is excited about that.

Court 1 has become more than just an open court to run pick up games on, the Preston Center is so much more than a gym to some.

“It feels like home,” Jackson said.

Created By
Hayley Robb
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