It was a place that thousands of Ozarks teens discovered and grew a love of basketball. A place that once housed one of the best attended summer college basketball leagues in the United States. A place that helped hundreds of Ozarks teens find colleges to play and prepare for their future.
And now, The Courts are no more.
After almost 20 years, The Courts are closing as a result of new ownership, leaving a significant hole in the Springfield sports community.
The Courts began when Jack Kramer wanted to open a venue for youth athletes in southwest Missouri to honor his son who had been killed in an auto accident. Kramer and general manager Chris Coskey worked together to build The Courts. Bob McBride bought the Courts in 2002 after Kramer’s health declined due to ALS to help continue Kramer’s vision.
“It’s extremely difficult to see this day come, but I know we had a great run and did something that influenced many lives in southwest Missouri,” Chris Coskey wrote on Facebook. “I know we can walk out of The Courts tonight knowing that Jack is looking down smiling.”
The Courts’ social media pages contained pages of comments from customers who shared their stories of how The Courts made a difference in their families’ lives.
“Thank you, from a kid who grew up at The Courts,” wrote Haylee Wingo on Facebook. “We all have many great memories there. We will cherish all of the games, laughs, and feeling of belonging. The greatest lessons were learned there; ones of sportsmanship, community, work ethic, and mostly how to be a respectable athlete and person. Thank you for giving us a place where a team can become a family.”