RUSSELL, Pa. – As The Hub at Praise Fellowship was putting the finishing touches on construction, it was still missing one vital piece of its interior. One of the facility’s primary functions is for basketball, and it still needed hoops.
(Official White House photo by Pete Souza. President Barack Obama shoots hoops on the White House basketball court, May 7, 2010. The hoops President Obama had at the White House are now the primary hoops in The Hub at PF.)
The Hub’s Sports Outreach Director, Steve Younger, thought he had secured a set but the deal fell through at the last minute. In that phone call, however, Younger learned of an opportunity to bring in another set of hoops. One with a little intrigue attached.
“I had bought a set in North Carolina,” Younger said. “But I got a phone call and the guy said, ‘I’ve got good news and bad news.’ The bad news was that he didn’t have the set I bought. The good news was that he had a new set that was better and cheaper, but there’s a catch.”
The gentleman went on, Younger explained, to ask questions about what type of facility The Hub is.
“I told him we’re a facility for kids, we only ask for $1 donation for people to play and so on,” Younger said. “He said, ‘OK, I think these will work for you, let me call you back.'”
When the man called back, he said that he did have hoops The Hub could purchase, but that there was a story behind them.
“‘Well, what’s that?’ I asked him,” Younger said. “He said, ‘Well, they’re at the White House.’ And I’m like, sure, sure, OK. He sent me some pictures and lo and behold, there’s President Obama shooting on these hoops.”
Younger confirmed that he wanted to purchase the hoops even though at $10,000 the cost was high, but was curious why there were questions about the type of facility the hoops were going to.
“The condition was that they had to go to a community center,” Younger said. “They had to go to something that was non-profit, for kids. We met whatever criteria had to be.”
While The Hub fit the criteria for purchasing the hoops, the hoops also fit perfectly for what The Hub was looking for as well. The set is similar to what one might find at a large AAU or college tournament. Heavy enough to allow for a player to hang on the rim without tipping, but able to be folded away for storage.
“It’s completely electric and hydraulic,” Younger said. “Once you get it all down on the ground you can literally just push it anywhere. It’s pretty sweet.”
(Photo courtesy Steve Younger. The hoops from President Obama’s court at the White House arrive at The Hub for assembly.)
The White House symbol was removed from the pads prior to the hoops being shipped, but Younger said he plans to pay a subtle tribute when he repairs some small tears.
“We’re going to put a silhouette of the White House on it, just a little tiny silhouette, then put The Hub on it in white letters,” he said.
Though most of them grew up during the Obama Administration, Younger said the kids who know the back story play it cool about sharing a hoop with a former president.
“The kids who know about the back story think it’s neat, but most of them just want to shoot,” Younger said.
Regardless of whether the players are impressed or not, the fact these hoops ended up in Warren County is still a tale to be told.
“It’s kind of a neat story that they ended up here in tiny Russell, PA,” Younger said.