By Raymond Williams, Development Director at Bush Tennis Center
As the only child of two hardworking parents, I spent the majority of my youth at their side, learning and listening from every step they took. Perhaps not true for all only children, I was the quintessential quiet kid in the corner, completely content with imaginary friends keeping me busy at all times. While this made for a quiet house for my parents, it was a good idea to get me involved at a young age with others. Before I knew it, at age seven I was on my first soccer team like so many others were.
“The Screamin’ Eagles”, coached by lifelong friend to Midland, Craig Hubbard, was my first taste of team sports and what it meant to function as a unit. While the basic mechanics of the game at age seven were all we were concerned with, the sense of teamwork was instilled in many of us as kids that still resonates today as adults.
We usually practiced at Bowie Elementary, just off of “A” Street in Midland. Most recognize this as the school just before you reach the duck pond that so many of us remember as the only standing water in Midland. However, when it came time for team pictures, we were told to go to a place that as an adult, I would become honored to be a part of: Opportunity Park.
At ages six and seven, none of us knew the importance of the wheelchair accessible equipment and soft ground at Opportunity Park. The day after we had pictures done for our soccer team, I begged my parents to take me back to “the carpet park”, as I called it. Delighted that their shy and quiet child wanted to go play with other kids, my parents took me back to Opportunity Park time and time again, and those memories are ingrained in me to this day. The idea of a place where all kids, whether shy or with special circumstances, could go and enjoy the west Texas sun together in a safe place not only meant the world to my parents, but it means to the world to me 18 years later.
When I was hired as the Development Director for Bush Tennis Center in February of 2016, I had no idea that Opportunity Park, now known as Chris Davidson Opportunity Park, was being relocated to my new place of employment. On my second day at BTC, I met with Steve Davidson, who is one of the most passionate individuals I have ever come across, and it not only meant the world to me to thank him for creating the park that I have so many fond memories of in the past, but as well for having me be a part of the park that will allow so many families in the future to create even more memories.
Community is more than a bridge between neighborhoods and sidewalks, it is a bond that goes beyond gender, race, age and circumstance: it defies time. In my case, 18 years separated my relationship to a truly amazing dream: a place for all, regardless of physical, financial, or geographical barriers.