Basketball is medicine at hospital's Coach K Court
Posted November 1, 2013
Durham, N.C. — In a town known for basketball, there's a court few people have ever seen.
Just outside Duke Children's Hospital is Coach K Court, named for the champion coach of the Duke University Blue Devils. It is a welcome respite for children for whom fresh air and basketball can be a form of medicine.
The court, exactly 1.2 miles from Coach K Court at Duke's Cameron Indoor Arena, serves the families seeking treatment at the hospital.
"It offers a distraction," said Steve Nichting. "When you are here for, let's say IV treatments, for 2 or 3 weeks at a time, 45 minutes outside is tremendous."
Nichting's daughter Alison has cystic fibrosis. Time on the court helps her lungs stay healthy and keeps her smiling
"It means a lot that she has something that makes her happy," said Gretchen Nichting, mom of Alison and wife of Steve.
Joey McMahon, founder of The Monday Life, knows the value of that distraction for sick kids.
"To have a basketball space, there's a reason for children to come out and play and think, 'I'm still a kid,'" McMahon said. "It's special. This place is really special."
His organization works to make life better for children in hospitals. They plan bleachers at Coach K Court so parents can watch and to accommodate younger children.
A former Duke basketball manager, McMahon often calls on his old friends to stop by and play some hoops.
Guard Rasheed Sulaimon called it "an extension of Cameron."
"It takes the kids' minds off of whatever they are going through when they come out here and play," said his teammate, junior guard Quinn Cook.
Josh Paryz just finished 40 months of chemotherapy. There were times he lacked the energy to get out of bed, let alone dribble a basketball.
His mother, Debbie Paryz, called the opportunity to get outside "the best medicine."
"When I don't feel like getting out and I feel like staying in my room, this helps me to get outside," Josh said.