Courts in Fernwood Park Named in Honor of Mac Irvin, Leader in Chicago Youth Basketball
Officials from the Chicago Park District and City of Chicago were joined today by Roseland community members in the 34th ward to dedicate the basketball courts at Fernwood Park, 10436 S. Wallace St., to McGlother “Mac” Irvin, nicknamed the godfather of Chicago high school basketball. The celebration included local band performances, and a basketball skills clinic.
“The Chicago Park District puts children first,” said General Superintendent and CEO Mike Kelly, “and we are proud to dedicate this court to Mac Irvin, who shared our commitment to helping youth reach their full potential.”
McGlother “Mac” Irvin (1937 - 2011) grew up in Chicago and played basketball for Tilden High School. He devoted over 30 years of his life to providing high-quality basketball programs to Chicago youth. Irvin turned a south side basketball program into the Mac Irvin Fire, a Nike-sponsored team, which is widely considered one of the nation's premier club programs. He was among the first coaches to take Chicago players around the country to compete. He also created the Mac Irvin Foundation which assists at-risk youth. Irvin mentored two generations of basketball players, dozens of whom went on to play professionally, including Antoine Walker, Melvin Ely and Juwan Howard.
The new court is part of the Chicago Park District’s Slam Dunk Project, which renovated 100 outdoor basketball courts, the largest renovation of courts in the Park District’s history. The renovations included resurfacing, sealing and striping the courts; installing new backboards and standards; and improving drainage. The courts were selected on a variety of factors, including the condition of courts and stated community support.
Chicago Park District procedures allow for the naming or renaming of parks or features in parks, including playgrounds and buildings, after individuals who worked or performed community service within a one-mile radius of the park site. Individuals must be deceased at least one year before a park or feature can be named in his or her honor.
For the McGlother “Mac” Irving Basketball Courts, notices were posted in parks and sent to advisory councils and elected officials. The proposed court renaming was brought to the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners for review and was followed by a 45-day notice period to solicit public input.
Numerous community members and organizations provided strong support for the proposed renaming, including Irvin’s family and the Fernwood Park Advisory Council. In addition, over 100 community members signed a petition in support of the naming.