With his pro basketball career currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Garden Spot alum Todd O’Brien found himself driving past New Holland Community Memorial Park’s outdoor court about two months ago.
The court hadn’t much changed since O’Brien, 31, first played on it as a middle-schooler.
“It was the same metal, half-moon backboards I was using 20 years ago,” O’Brien said. “With the double rims that have no give. The court just looked kind of beat. The surface was pretty faded.”
A few weeks passed and O’Brien couldn’t shake the thought. He felt the urge to give the aging court a facelift, a challenge made a bit easier with the earnings he’s made over a nine-year pro career overseas.
“After the civil unrest going on it got me thinking,” O’Brien said. “I’ve been fortunate through basketball in making a lot of friends through various cultures, races and religions. It felt appropriate to give back to the sport in a way by providing a good court.”
A court that has had a large influence in the New Holland hoops community.
“Everyone who has played basketball at Garden Spot has played on that court,” O’Brien said. “And now, with gyms closed, it’s like the only court in town.”
But O’Brien had no knowledge of the steps required to make his idea become reality. So he emailed New Holland Borough manager J. Richard Fulcher and streets and park supervisor Bob Buzzard.
“I was wondering if I could purchase some new hoops and get people together to update the court?” O’Brien asked in the email.
Fast-forward to today.
The court now looks brand new.
O’Brien found and purchased the single-rimmed Goalrilla basketball hoops with the square, clear backboards. Usner Excavating ripped out the old baskets. The Garden Spot boys basketball coaching staff assisted in the placement of the new baskets, which were cemented in to the ground by Advantage Metered Concrete. Lyons & Hohl Paving paved over the surface of the entire court, which was then seal-coated by Hock Seal Coating. Superior Line Striping painted the new lines overtop the fresh seal.
In all, the project took about six weeks, finished Thursday with the new lines. O’Brien estimated the price tag of everything to be around $8,000.
But it came at no cost to the borough.
O’Brien purchased the hoops and covered the cost of the concrete, which Advantage Metered Concrete provided at a fraction of its usual prices. The rest of the companies involved donated their time and supplies, in part because each has a connection to the community.
For instance, Usner Excavating manager Matt Usner is the Garden Spot boys basketball junior varsity coach. He was also a member of Garden Spot’s 1998-99 "Blonde Bombers" team that reached a district final and won a Lancaster-Lebanon League section title.
“I was more of a seventh man,” Usner said.
O’Brien, a 6-foot, 11-inch forward, finished up his four-year prep career at Garden Spot in 2007 by going over 1,000 points, 750 rebounds and 250 blocked shots. He was the program’s first to earn an NCAA Division I scholarship. After a college career split between Bucknell and St. Joe’s, O’Brien has since played professionally in Latvia, France, Japan, Poland, Qatar, Lebanon, Armenia, Russia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Back in the United States since mid-March, O’Brien has split his time between New Holland and Philadelphia, filling a part of his days with a philanthropic effort that might be the start of something.
“I’m just really happy with how everything turned out and how everyone was so willing to get involved,” he said. “Maybe next summer I’ll find another court and do it again.”