Home Court Advantage
"The Fountain Square adult basketball league has been our way of connecting with the community," Captain Vinal Lee, senior pastor at The Salvation Army Fountain Square, shared. “People from all over Indianapolis come to play, and individuals coming from tougher parts of the city have a safe space to get out of their environment for a little bit.”
The league has found great success and garnered plenty of enthusiasm over its first three seasons. Basketball is the big draw, of course, but these teams also provide an opportunity for their members to build a support group and mentor those that may need a little extra guidance.
Captain Lee has seen this play out for several members of the league, including a young man who has seen great personal growth since he started spending time at The Salvation Army.
“It has helped him grow into a more mature adult over the last year," Captain Lee explained. "Before, he was not necessarily making the best decisions, but now he has a community that can help guide him and show him a more positive way of living. The basketball program has been a way for us to stay connected with him and help us meet him where he is at.”
The six-team league has been a wonderful addition to the lineup of activities offered at The Salvation Army's corps community center. Located just blocks from downtown Indianapolis, the Fountain Square neighborhood is filled with fans of Indiana basketball who readily embraced a new way to stay active while making vital connections with others in their community.
After a long-planned renovation earlier this year, the building now sports a fresh gymnasium floor and new equipment for youth and adult sports programs. The updated gymnasium was dedicated to Al Green, a longtime coach and Salvation Army employee who passed away in 2020 after a lifetime of selflessly helping others find faith in God and in themselves. Today, fans and athletes alike can gather and remember the good works of Coach Green in a space that he loved.
The adult basketball league took the summer off to provide space for The Salvation Army's "Summer on the Square" youth day camp, but players are now back in the gym and competing in a new fall season. For just a few hours each week, these men and women are able to come together in fellowship and camaraderie while enjoying a sport that fills their lives with joy. For the staff at The Salvation Army, they see the difference a simple game can make and the doors it can open for even greater spiritual and personal gains.
"We have been really grateful to have basketball be a touchpoint for making a difference in people’s lives," added Captain Lee, as he thought on all the good outcomes that have come from the program. “That is the heart of the adult league.”