BRYAN, Texas – It’s a place where kids can discover their passions, form new friendships and receive mentorship that could change the course of their lives.
For generations, the Boys & Girls Club of the Brazos Valley has served the children of Aggieland. This Tuesday, the doors were officially opened at their brand new location on Beck Street in Bryan.
“This is a sizeable regulation gym,” said Rhonda Watson, CEO of BGCBV. “We have an art and design studio where we’re going to bring in paint, crochet, whatever interests them. And we’re really going to work with the kids to make whatever interests them. We have a room for teenagers, obviously the gym, a computer lab and a library.
The old building on WJB Parkway has been in operation since 1964. The new building, the result of a decade-long, $5 million fundraising campaign, doubles the size of the old property.
A major novelty is the kitchen, which will not only allow children to take part in cooking classes, but will also facilitate meals for these children; something not offered at the old location.
“I grew up in the community. I grew up in the Boys & Girls Club from a very young age,” said Roderick “Coach Ghost” World Harris Jr., athletic director of BGCBV. “I’m a Boys & Girls Club kid. That was it for me. That’s how I started socializing and met a lot of my friends… Lots of friends, we started not liking us on the other side of town. It was an east side thing on the west side. But we just grew up together.”
Harris’ introduction to football and basketball while playing in the old building in the ’90s shaped him, setting him on course to play college football at Kansas. Now, with the new facility, Harris wants to share the joys of her childhood with other kids and open the doors to more sports than ever before.
“We are going to do a lot of things,” he explained. “Even right now with basketball, we’ve started with our basketball clinics, which has marked our basketball program. And we’re going to do the same thing for football, the same thing for the track. We’ll have cheerleaders coming up, and I’ve contacted the schools to see if we can do gymnastics.
Harris said if the kids at the club aren’t interested in sports, he wants to be able to encourage them in their culinary, artistic, theatrical pursuits — anything that motivates them and develops their character.
“I also encourage any parents out there, even if your child doesn’t want to play sports, that’s fine,” Harris said. Sign them up, do tutoring, try to figure out what motivates these kids because we have a lot of opportunities.
Anyone interested in volunteering or enrolling their child in a membership can visit bgcbv.org.