Slippery patches of ice and an inches-deep layer of crunchy snow coat the walkways of Hunting Park, waiting to take down any residents who venture into the bitter cold. With the temperature hovering somewhere in the teens, it’s no surprise that the sidewalks of the neighborhood are bare of pedestrians out to enjoy the day.
The hostile weather conditions did not stop proud mamas and papas from coming out to line the benches of the Hunting Park Recreation Center’s only basketball court to root for their sons.
It’s the first game of the season for the KIPP Philadelphia Charter School, but the furor created by cheering parents and screaming coaches generates a frenzy more suited to a playoff push. Though there is barely enough space to fit one row of benches on either side of the court, community members are packed in side by side and even standing along the walls to watch the fast paced action.
Shoved into the far corner near the door is Alfonso Oliver, father to the tall and lanky No. 12, Rodney Crawford, who flashes past with the ball to make an attempt at a jump shot.
“We do attend some of the programs at the Rec Center. For the kids it’s some place to go and stay out of trouble,” Oliver says without taking his eyes off the game.
For schools like KIPP Charter without sports facilities of their own, the Hunting Park Rec Center is integral to keeping alive the growing number of after school programs in the area.