His heart sank when he saw the kids shooting baskets at rotted hoops on the playground at Carver Elementary School.
Carver had been closed for about a decade. It reopened three years ago with the same old rotten backboards on the basketball courts, no hoops, no nets.
Now, that sweet “swish” sound is back.
“I was walking a foot beat down the street, I kept hearing this ‘thud, thud, thud,” Owens said. “So I walked down here. I looked at these kids; they’re just throwing basketballs at an empty backboard with no hoop, no rim, rotting wood.”
Owens texted a friend—Brian McKenna—who works for ServPro Restoration Services. McKenna's FaceBook post about Officer Owens wanting to get new backboards for the kids led to Johnny Mac’s Sporting Goods joining ServPro in covering the cost of two new hoops. Hankins Construction donated the installation.
“I think it’s so important for students, not only to see cops, but to see people outside of Carver, care about carver. People outside of carver care about them down to a basketball hoop,” said Anna Westlund, principal at Carver.
“It’s not basketball without a hoop,” Owens said. “I mean they were happy enough to throw at the old backboards. But it wasn’t right. You’re in elementary school, you need a backboard, you need a hoop.”
“It’s really awesome to see their faces, they’re so excited. It changes their whole life,” said Clay Keeney of Johnny Mac’s.
“We need to all be more aware of what is going on in our community, the good things that are taking place: the teachers, the firefighters, the police officers, who are making a difference every single day, who are making St. Louis a better community,” McKenna said.
Twenty companies have come forward wanting to help, Owens said.
He's identified four more schools where he hopes to get new hoops installed.