I was watching college basketball in March, and I happened upon a Youngstown State University game. The team was good but what really caught my eye was their jerseys. I thought – How cool would it be, as the new Director of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in Seattle, to rock a Youngstown State University basketball jersey from Ohio in the halls here? Really cool, I thought to myself in reply.
I looked online, but everything was Penguins. Penguins penguins penguins. I love penguins as much as the next, but I needed a jersey that said Youngstown on it. Not just YSU Penguins (go Penguins!). So I let it go, just another passing fancy of a new Director trying to find his cool.
Until several months later, when I got a call from a student named Steve W. at Youngstown State University who wanted to interview me about “Youngstown, Washington.” After making it clear to him that Youngstown was not a city but rather the old name for the neighborhood here, I shared with him what I knew about the neighborhood, how it was so named because of the shared history with Youngstown, Ohio and the blue collar grit of the steel workers who settled here to work on the mill, and how our building was originally the Youngstown School. After suggesting he also contact our friends at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society for more background, I asked as we were saying goodbye – “Hey, you know anyone in the athletic department there?”
It turns out Steve had worked for a quarter in the athletic department and gave me contact info for Trevor Parks, the YSU Sports Information Director. Steve and I thanked each other and hung up, and I immediately wrote an e-mail to Mr. Parks, talking about the great work we’re doing here at the Cultural Arts Center for our community and for our youth…and then asking how I might get a Youngstown State basketball jersey.
Trevor replied quickly saying “in the irony of ironies” that he and his wife we’re heading to Seattle the following week(!) and he would try to pull some stuff together. A week later, I met them at their hotel downtown and received a whole box of goodies – hats, stickers, drink koozies, and yes, an authentic Youngstown State basketball jersey. I gushed. He even included an amazing “Defend Youngstown” T-shirt that he had talked an Ohioan salesman into donating to the cause. And as if that wasn’t enough, upon his return to Ohio, Trevor mailed me a box of Youngstown State shooting shirts! What?!
And so, at our December board meeting, I made the Board of the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, the governing body of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, wear the shooting shirts for a photo op. Apologies to all that I did not have a basketball on hand for the photo.
THANK YOU to Trevor Parks and the athletic department at YSU, and to student reporter Steve W. for the connection, and a reminder to us all – it never hurts to ask.
Happy Holidays to Youngstowners everywhere!!