Two Local Residents Make Improvements to Riverside Park Basketball Court

| October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

Riverside Park has two basketball courts, one of which hasn’t had baskets in many years, and one which hasn’t received a new paint job in many years. South Baltimore resident Pat Horvat and West Baltimore resident Ben Cecchini decided to change that.

Cecchini owns Give N’ Grow Basketball which spent just under $1,000 on supplies for the renovation. Horvat and Cecchini both spent about 30 hours each repainting the court and updating the backboards with a theme that reflects Riverside Park’s history as Fort Lookout in the War of 1812.

“We were worried people might not like it and that it might not be that well-received, but we thought the risk was worth the reward,” said Cecchini. But, Horvat and Cecchini have received an outpouring of support in recent days.

Cecchini said the response has been amazing. “So many people stopped by when we were working on it with love, and on Facebook it really blew up,” he added.

Joel Anderson, who stopped by to say hello and check out the work of  Horvat and Cecchini, posted photos of the court and Horvat and Cecchini on the South Baltimore Community by (SBNA) Facebook Group. The post has received more than 1,200 likes to date and many comments from South Baltimore residents expressing their appreciation.

Anderson started a GoFundMe to reimburse Horvat and Cecchini for the money spent. The campaign has already raised more than $550 in its first 12 hours.

The court now features new lines and a light blue and black color scheme using exterior paint. The ledge around the north side of the court has been painted black. Horvat, who is a freelance graphic designer and a graffiti artist, designed the improvements. At center court is logo with four stars, representing the four in 1814, the year the United States fought off the British in the War of 1812 and the Battle of Baltimore.

The backboards have new wallpaper-style printouts over top of them. One backboard features a scene from the War of 1812 and the other backboard has the 15-star, 15-stripe USA flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore and which was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s Star-Spangled Banner.

Along the ledge is a basketball logo that says “The Fort” which is in honor of Fort Lookout. Cecchini said they wanted the court to tell a story.

Horvart has been playing on the court for about 10 years and noticed the amount of people showing up has dwindled in recent years. Cecchini and Horvat are hoping to celebrate with a day of basketball games or a tournament.

This was the first court makeover by Give N’ Grow Basketball, but Cecchini hopes to do many more and work directly with community groups in the future. “We really appreciate all the love and support we got from the community. It was awesome to be so well received,” said Cecchini.

He noted that it was awesome to start in a community that cares as much as South Baltimore does. He plans to take that feedback from this area to garner support for projects in other communities.

Cecchini is eyeing Cherry Hill for the next court makeover, and is already working with a community group on the project and to gather volunteers.

Give N’ Grow Basketball started last year and trains youth basketball players from kindergarten to fifth grade. Cecchini is a certified life coach and not only teaches basketball with his players but also does meditation and reflections to get his students into a “growth mindset.” Give N’ Grow is based in Catonsville, but Cecchini said the company has a giving aspect that will be focused on Baltimore City. He also said that 2% of the revenues will also go to nonprofits working in third-world countries.

Cecchini worked in Ghana for three months as a basketball trainer before launching Give N’ Grow. He played college basketball at Washington and Jefferson College.

Cecchini is originally from Buffalo, NY and Horvat is grew up in Rochester. The two met when they were both previously working at Under Armour. They’ve stayed close friends, and of course, love getting together for a game of basketball. Part of their inspiration for this project was the memories they had of their neighborhood courts growing up in New York.

Baltimore City Recreation & Parks is expecting to begin an expansion and renovation of the athletic facilities at Riverside Park next year.

Photos courtesy of Joel Anderson 

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Creator of SouthBmore.com and resident of SoBo. Graduate of Towson University and owner of Incept Multimedia, a full service video production company. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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