Warren city, schools bring courts to park

WARREN – A few years ago, former Warren G. Harding volleyball coach Stephanie Shimko and Warren businessman John Lacey were having a discussion about volleyball at Harding. The talk focused on what could be done for the Raiders to have some place to go during the off season, especially in the spring and summer, for girls to just get more touches on a volleyball.

From that conversation blossomed a collaboration project between Warren City Schools and the City of Warren that benefits not only the school, but the community as well.

On Thursday, three new sand volleyball courts were dedicated at Perkins Park. The courts are a collaboration of the City of Warren and Warren City Schools.

“It was a pleasure to see people say yes, when the easy thing would have been to say no,” Lacey said. “This is the type of effort it takes to make things happen.”

When the project first began, Shimko, who coached at Harding from 2003-2012, would have been happy with one court. Having three is more than she or anyone in the volleyball program ever envisioned.

“We were happy with just a small court, a space to come down and get more reps in for the girls,” Shimko said. “This is more than we ever could have imagined.”

Shimko and current coach Heather Guthrie said the courts will not only be utilized for practices during the summer months, but for the girls to have a place to go just to get in some time with the ball and a net.

“(The goal is always) to be more competitive,” Shimko said. “A lot of these girls can’t afford J.O. (Junior Olympic) programs. This is a place where they can come whenever they want and improve their game and become stronger players.”

The three courts were a collaboration between the city and the schools. According to Community Development Director Michael Keys, the materials for the courts were paid for by money from federal grant money that the city received. The biggest donation of the project came from David Grayson and Miller-Yount Paving, who donated all of the labor costs to install the courts.

The courts will be available for public use during park hours. The goal of the city, and for the Harding volleyball program, is to start leagues and hold tournaments at the park.

“This took a total community effort to happen,” Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said.