“We’d interview kids about playing with a rim with no net. The kids loved the interaction,” said Herrion.
And his two helpers witnessed the “impact something so simple could have on people,” he said.
Herrion remembers when he had a rim without a net in his driveway and so he understands the thinking of the kids and young guys on the public courts. “If you don’t have a ladder, it’s not worth the effort,” he said. “I’m sure they figure they’ll wait until the city gets around to it. And by that time, basketball season could be over.”
The basketball player in Herrion knows the net makes a big difference in the experience of playing ball. “Without a net, it’s like playing on an incomplete rim. There’ no indication you have accomplished a thing if you don’t hear that ball go through the net. You have to hear that ball swish. The net completes your shot.”
He has talked to kids who told him also that having a net “cuts down on a lot of fights because they argue about whether or not a shot went through.”
Neighborhood Nets checks on its rims to make sure they don’t slip into disrepair. Herrion also sometimes plays games with the guys at the locations where he has hung nets. Now that “net hanging season” is about to end, the organization will start Resources to Rebound, its youth program on character education and personal development for boys and girls.
“We would like to work with these teams to develop life skills off the court,” said Herrion. “We know the chances of going pro are low to none; we want to make sure that player is a well-rounded individual who can think, manage emotions and knows what it takes to be successful.”
He wants to award scholarships to basketball summer camps for those who attend Resources to Rebound.
In the future, Herrion hopes to partner with some NBA teams, high schools or colleges to provide even more nets and volunteers. Already, Neighborhood Nets has received requests for nets from other states and from Canada. Herrion gladly sends the nets, information on the organization and a Neighborhood Nets t-shirt.
“It costs them nothing,” noted Herrion, who is the father of two young sons. “Sure, people could buy nets for their communities but I think they like the idea of supporting what we do and we like providing a service. All we ask is they take a before and after picture of the rim and photos of them in the t-shirt.”
What makes it all worthwhile, said Herrion, are experiences like the one he, his wife and sons had one recent evening.
“The sun was setting. The goal was in a parking lot. Two kids—a girl and her little brother–ran out of the apartment building and sat on the curb and waited on us to put up the net so they could play. My wife was asking the girl what she liked in school. We weren’t sure they should be out there alone. But I figure the conversation and the net was a way to say you matter and what you do matters. As we put up the net and drove off, it was dark and they were out there shooting.
“We don’t make a dime and I get no checks from this. But honestly, that little girl looking up at that net was my reward.”