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You know how you feel when you set a goal—climb a 14er, run a 10k, sink a 3-pointer—achieve it, and can’t wait to do it again? That’s what happened at Maddox Park in Atlanta on October 25th, 2022 when Honey Stinger teamed up with WNBA player and two-time Olympic Gold medalist Angel McCoughtry, Adidas, RISE, Project Backboard, and Champions For Philanthropy. Even as we unveiled two refurbished basketball courts to create a welcoming and safe place for kids in the community to play, we were already talking about what’s next.
For Honey Stinger, the court revitalization was the first major project for our Athlete Advisory Committee (AAC). The AAC was formed following the murder of George Floyd and its main objective is to foster diversity through the Honey Stinger brand and reinforce inclusivity within the Hive athlete community. The AAC shapes how we get involved in our neighborhoods and address issues of social justice.
The AAC committed to supporting board chair Angel McCoughtry in its inaugural undertaking with a project to give back to the youth of Atlanta—the city that had the biggest impact on Angel’s career. The court renovation felt like the perfect way to support Angel outside her own athletic pursuits and make change that matters. Being able to connect with the City of Atlanta Parks & Recreations Department, the Boys & Girls Club of Atlanta, and trainers and student athletes from Clark Atlanta University spoke to the vision of the venture.
As the ribbon cutting took place, representatives from the City of Atlanta and Fulton County shared ways they wanted to use the courts—from open court in the community to camps and clinics on the horizon. At over 80 years old, Maddox Park has deep roots in Atlanta and will continue to see additional improvements and expansions to enhance quality of life for residents and ensure safe and healthy connectivity.
With a spirit of togetherness, the courts at Maddox Park were delivered back to its neighborhood. The goal of rehabilitating the courts is to build up youth in the next generation and move Atlanta forward for a strong and healthy future. At the event, Atlanta City Council member Byron Amos emphasized: “It is very clear that when we give our children the opportunity to do something different, they will do it. This court represents that opportunity.”
Fulton County Commissioner Khadijah Abdur-Rahman called the revitalization a testament of love. “The refurbished court will be a beacon to the Atlanta community at large,” Abdur-Rahman said. The Commissioner presented Angel with the highest civilian recognition at the county level and acknowledged that sports have the ability to change lives and drive gender equality by teaching women and girls teamwork, self-reliance, resilience, and confidence. “Angel has shown us that women and girls in sports can defy gender stereotypes and social norms, make inspiring role models, and show men and women as equals.”
The event included a panel discussion led by RISE featuring female leaders in the sports industry who shared the experiences and lessons they learned to support, motivate, and empower the next generation of female leaders. Panelists included Mel Strong (Honey Stinger board member, ex-Nike executive, and founding partner of NEXT VENTŪRES), Dr. Candace Brown (Honey Stinger special advisor to the board, AAC member, and Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences at UNC Charlotte), Gwen Berry (Olympian, Track & Field), and Angel McCoughtry. The discussion focused on the power of sports to create long lasting social change and the specific ways each panelist could continue to use their platforms to keep promoting social justice and issues impacting women.
“This project is a way for us to give back to the community, to the young women,” McCoughtry said to the crowd at Maddox Park. “When I got drafted in 2009, most people didn’t know we had a women’s team. And I kept saying, ‘man, I wish people would start to come out and know who we are.’ And now 13 years later, here I am with a court. But I just want to encourage you all that if you stick to something you love, these are the results that can happen with that. It’s never too late. It doesn’t matter what age, it doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter who you are. If you find that passion and you stick with it, you can do things you never imagined. I never knew that I would be an Olympian—I just thought to play basketball. I grew up in Baltimore. I played with the guys. I was called a tomboy because I was the only girl out there. But I never imagined the things that could happen because I stuck with something I love. So, I’m encouraging you all to stick with that thing you love, because it will take you places you never imagined and beautiful things can come from it.”
Eugene Anderson, Honey Stinger’s Director of Athletes & DEI who facilitates the AAC, was thrilled at the success of this project. “The purpose of the court was to inspire youth in the community. Because of Angel and RISE, we were also able to showcase female empowerment.” Anderson attested to the X factor of collaboration, acknowledging that so much happened at Maddox Park because organizations and businesses wanted to participate. “We were open to partnering with other brands and organizations knowing that we all share the objective of working for the greater good. It felt right to get everyone involved. Now we’re all wondering: what can we do next?”