Petition: Youth Sports for All in North Oakland

This petition requests that the OUSD School Board recognize the importance of Rickey Henderson Field to our community and develop a plan to create additional recreational facilities that support PE and team sports including baseball, softball and soccer for our young people.
The petition is found at the bottom of the page and states what we are asking for from the OUSD School Board.

Background

For 30 years, student athletes at Oakland Technical High School (OTHS) had to walk 1.5 miles to Bushrod Park to practice and play baseball.  At times the field was unplayable, and the baseball program and it students suffered during this period—a  problem that persists for many high schools in Oakland, even today.  A solution was needed and a dream was born: Build a new diamond—Rickey Henderson Field—on a space that was nearer to OTHS and underutilized.
Rickey Henderson Field (RHF) was built in 2007-2008 on the former Carter Middle School field by Oakland Technical High School (OTHS) parents, alumni and dedicated community members through an extraordinary grassroots, volunteer effort. They raised $350,000 in cash and in-kind donations, and scores of volunteers—including OTHS baseball players—gave countless hours of grueling, hands-on “sweat equity” to build the field that has been described as a priceless diamond, because there are no other diamond’s this nice in Oakland.   The field is now maintained by Oakland Field of Dreams (OFOD), a 501(c)3 organization established to provide stewardship of this valuable community resource. OFOD also recognizes the need for a softball facility and supports the development of a softball facility in North Oakland.
Rickey Henderson Field in its current design benefits the youth in our community served by OTHS Baseball, Oakland Athletic League (including students from all Oakland public high schools participating in the baseball league), North Oakland/South Oakland Little League, Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken Baseball and NOLL/SOLL’s Challenger teams (serving children with developmental disabilities).  The outfield also currently serves as a space for students at Oakland International High School (OIHS) to have access to vital physical education (PE) classes needed for them to meet OUSD high school graduation requirements. RHF also brings together youth from Richmond, El Cerrito, Berkeley, San Leandro, Pinole, and other East Bay schools in addition to youth from San Francisco, the Peninsula and north of the Golden Gate.
Rickey Henderson Field is an example of what all high school baseball programs in Oakland should have access to close to their schools.  In a short 6-year period, RHF has had a very positive impact on Oakland’s students who have played at the “Rickey”, and it has served as a bridge to bring community together.

The Issue

OUSD is considering altering RHF in a way that would render it unusable for competitive league-play, high school-level baseball.
This would both negatively impact what should serve as a model for sports and recreational centers, especially considering the background of Rickey Henderson Field and what it means to Oakland’s baseball community. Oakland—with its incredibly rich heritage of baseball—is suffering from a dwindling number of facilities.
In arriving at its proposals, OUSD conducted a process that didn’t properly engage stakeholders on this issue and focused on only one of the stakeholders. OUSD also did not look at all of the possible spaces available nearby that could have been part of a more comprehensive solution, thus creating additional facilities and opportunity for activities to be conducted at the same time, as OUSD had committed to doing.

The Petition

Thank you for signing the petition below.  Your name will appear on the list to the right when you refresh this page after submitting your signature.

Youth Sports for All in North Oakland

  • I support the Oakland Unified School District’s need to provide physical education (PE) programs for all students in Oakland.
  • I support recreational space in North Oakland to accommodate high school-level baseball, softball and soccer fields, particularly for students of Oakland International High School (OIHS) and OTHS, but also for youth throughout Oakland.
  • I hereby request that OUSD:
    • maintain the integrity of Rickey Henderson Field (RHF) in its current configuration, designate the outfield as grass space for PE for OIHS students during the day, and designate the whole field as a baseball facility after school and during the summer;
    • conduct a comprehensive and exhaustive analysis of OUSD properties in the 45th St. corridor to arrive at a plan that leads to development of additional facilities to best address the needs of PE, baseball, softball and soccer in North Oakland
    • provide access to these PE facilities after school for student athletics to build community, learn valuable life lessons that team sports teach and provide a vital motivation for many students to stay engaged with schools and academics; and
    • conduct the decision-making process about the development and future of these recreational facilities on OUSD property in North Oakland in a manner that is transparent, authentic and inclusive of all of the communities affected, not just the OUSD communities.

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2,163 signatures

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