The Diamond’s Story (revisited)

Neighborhood growth often happens over time. All too often it takes much more time than we’d like or anticipate. Yet, there is something beautiful in this process, because it reminds us that the things we labor for now in our communities are not ultimately for us but for those who will come after us. One such example of this is the Hanscom Park mini-pitch. 

There was a group of youth in the Park Ave neighborhood in 2016 who stumbled upon inCOMMON. They were joined together by a love for soccer. They had varying skills, some would go on to play for their high school teams and others just played for fun, but it was the foundation for their friendship. They simply enjoyed playing soccer together. However, their neighborhood did not have a great place to play, so they made due with what they had. Through conversations with inCOMMON staff, they expressed their desire for a new place to play. 

They got to work conducting neighborhood surveys, hosting neighborhood meetings, and even fundraising well over 50% of the needed funds. They met with city council members and the parks department. The process was slow, frustratingly slow, but this was not a deterrent for them. They realized that even if it took a long time, and even if they wouldn’t get to use the space much, they knew that it would benefit those to come after them. 

With delays from COVID, and issues with potential sites, the project seemingly stalled out. Finally, in 2023, there was traction with the City of Omaha to transform an existing tennis court into a mini-pitch with lights and in May 2023 the pitch was installed. Many of the youth who began the project were unable to attend the grand opening. Several have moved and others have full-time jobs, but still they were proud to see the space finally come to fruition. They were proud to see what their efforts had produced and were glad to see it filled with so many neighbors. 

When the weather is nice, the mini-pitch is filled with kids after school. Many have no idea where the pitch came from, but that doesn’t matter. They have a space that they can walk to and enjoy. It is a part of their neighborhood. The best part about this project is that it wasn’t about any individual or even just one group, but it was about bringing a new space that will continue to bring neighbors together for many years. 

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