NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt University has collaborated with Pepsi, Hoopbus and Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation to introduce an all-new outdoor basketball court at Watkins Park in North Nashville. The new court debuted at the “Hoops and Hope Celebrating Black History and Community” grand opening event, a celebration of the resilience, creativity and hope of the North Nashville community on Thursday, with the event will also serving as an early Juneteenth commemoration in the city.
The collaboration is part of a broader initiative to promote local community engagement and physical activity throughout the greater Nashville area. Representatives from Vanderbilt University, Pepsi, Hoopbus, Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation and local government will be in attendance to commemorate the occasion and speak to the importance of community and wellness.
“We are proud to partner with Vanderbilt University to bring this court to life alongside our friends at Hoopbus and Metro Nashville Parks,” said Cyril Wallace, vice president and general manager of South Division, PepsiCo Beverages North America. “Together, this joint event truly serves as a reminder of the power of collaboration and the importance of preserving history and culture. We hope that this project will inspire and empower local community members of all ages to pursue their dreams.”
The court honors the legacy of Perry Wallace, the first African American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference. Wallace, who died in 2017, made history when he enrolled at Vanderbilt in 1966 and broke the color barrier in the SEC. Notable guests will include AND1 legend and street basketball player Randy “White Chocolate” Gill and “Hustle” star and former NBA player Elvin “Mr. Everything” Rodriguez. Sen. Charlane Oliver will also be in attendance.
“This project is special to me and to all of us at Vanderbilt Athletics in the way it brings together sports, the arts and community around a message of hope. I know those concepts mattered to Perry Wallace, and he would be incredibly proud to see what is happening,” said Candice Storey Lee, vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director for Vanderbilt University. “I hope that the kids in this neighborhood have a great time playing basketball on this beautiful new court, and I hope that we all continue to work together to build community, celebrate the history and pride of North Nashville, and support the arts.”
The revamped court features a beautiful community mural dedicated to the contributions of North Nashville to local and national civil rights progress and has also been designed to provide a safe and dependable playing surface for community members in the area. During the grand opening, the North Nashville Arts Coalition led an additional project focused on designing another community-created mural that will be on display at Watkins Community Center. Local nonprofits and organizations involved with the event were Backfield in Motion, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bethlehem Center, Dream Streets, Rocketship Public Schools, Soul’d and Oasis Center.
“North Nashville is a special place that has borne, nurtured and supported phenomenally talented, smart, creative and determined Black people like Perry Wallace,” Elisheba Mrozik, president of the North Nashville Arts Coalition said. “We are proud to be a part of yet another significant historic moment in North Nashville and this addition to its creative legacy.”
The event featured basketball clinics, games, activities, food and music. There was also a donation drive for new or gently used sports equipment benefiting the thousands of youths that utilize community center programming throughout the Nashville metropolitan area.
“We are very appreciative of the hard work that went into the design and installation of this new outdoor basketball court at Watkins Park and know that the children in the area will really enjoy shooting hoops on the new court as well as learning about the area’s valuable contribution to the Civil Rights Movement,” said Monique Horton Odom, director of Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation. “It’s creative, collaborative efforts, like this one, that help us maximize the amenities we offer to neighborhoods across the city.”
For more information about the Watkins Park outdoor basketball court project and the “Hoops and Hope” event, visit vanderbilt.edu/diversity/hoopsandhope/.
About Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University is a globally renowned research university located in Nashville, Tennessee. Ranked No. 13 among national universities, Vanderbilt offers an immersive living-learning undergraduate experience, with programs in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, education and human development. The university also is home to nationally and internationally recognized graduate schools of law, education, business, medicine, nursing and divinity, and offers robust graduate-degree programs across a range of academic disciplines. Vanderbilt is committed to inclusive excellence, drawing the world’s brightest students, faculty and distinguished visitors from across all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and provides a collaborative atmosphere of discovery that drives positive change in the world. Learn more at www.vanderbilt.edu.
PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $86 billion in net revenue in 2022, driven by a complementary beverage and convenient foods portfolio that includes Lay’s, Doritos, Cheetos, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew, Quaker and SodaStream. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including many iconic brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.
Guiding PepsiCo is a vision to Be the Global Leader in Beverages and Convenient Foods by Winning with pep+ (PepsiCo Positive). pep+ is PepsiCo’s strategic end-to-end transformation that puts sustainability and human capital at the center of how they will create value and growth by operating within planetary boundaries and inspiring positive change for planet and people. For more information, visit www.pepsico.com, and follow on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn @PepsiCo.
Hoopbus is a nonprofit organization that works to promote community engagement and physical activity through basketball. Founded in 2019, Hoopbus has provided basketball clinics and events for more than 10,000 people across the United States.
About Metro Nashville Parks
It is the mission of Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation to provide, sustainably and equitably, everyone in Nashville with an inviting network of parks and greenways that offer health, wellness and quality of life through recreation, conservation and community. The Parks Department offers a variety of facilities and programs throughout Davidson County. Currently, Metro Parks oversees nearly 16,000 acres of open space, including 178 parks and 100 miles of greenway.