Published 2006

Family has its own private basketball court

By Aaron Schultz
Sports Editor

In the popular baseball movie “Field of Dreams,” it was said that if you built it they would come.

Well, in Winsted nearly 10 years ago, there were no voices telling Terry Burkett to build it, and it wasn’t a baseball field.

But, Burkett built it, and the neighborhood kids just keep on coming over.

Back in 1996, with two teenage boys, and a newborn daughter, Terry and his wife, Judy, with a little help from Gary Sterner and his Bobcat, built a basketball court in the Burkett’s backyard.

While he didn’t exactly plow under his corn field, Terry did chew up his backyard to put up the nearly full-sized court.

“We decided to put up the court for Josh and Joey,” Terry said.

Josh, 21, and Joey, 20, are both graduates of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School.

Terry, a 1981 graduate of Howard Lake-Waverly High School, wasn’t too shabby of a basketball player in his own right.

The court is about three feet shorter than regulation, but that doesn’t seem to bother any of the neighborhood kids, who come over regularly to play a little hoops.

“I still get out there and play against the kids once in a while,” Terry said.

Terry did say that if a group of kids are a little too tough for him, he’ll just head back into the house and watch the game through his window.

Once the Burketts decided to build the court, it was finished in about three hours.

“Gary (Sterner) came with his Bobcat, and with a nice-sized crew that was over to tar the driveway, it took about a total of three hours,” Terry said.

A decent amount of fill was brought in to lay the foundation, and then, the tar was laid down.

However, the court is not perfectly level. This is so the water will run off easily.

The upkeep isn’t all that much work either. About every other year, they put on a new coat of a substance called Black Jack, which seals the tar and fills in the cracks.

They also used to paint the court with 3-point lines and free throw lines, but haven’t done it for a few years.

“When we recoat the court, it doesn’t seem to work as well over the paint, but we might paint the lines again sometime,” Terry said.

While everything has gone smoothly at the court, for the most part, all these years, there was a time right away when it seemed like it might not have been such a good idea.

That first year, when the court was up and going, there were a few injuries and a couple of trips to the emergency room for some broken bones.

“Right away, there were some injuries, and I thought maybe we should paint the court green and make it into a tennis court,” Terry said. “But, since then, there really hasn’t been anything.”

For the first few years after the court was built, a lot of people just thought that the court was a part of the Westgate Park.

Now, though, the Burkett property line is better defined with shrubs.

“The kids that come over are all pretty good, and are always welcome to play a little basketball,” Terry said.

However, Terry said that his daughter, Ashley, might prefer a balance beam in the backyard, rather than to the basketball court.

Ashley, 10, competes in gymnastics at Watertown-Mayer School.

“She is a very good gymnast, and is much more interested in gymnastics than basketball,” Terry said. “Still, Ashley uses the court from time to time.”

Which brings us back to the neighborhood kids, who on any given day after school, or in the summer, can be seen playing hoops at the Burkett’s.

With kids always coming and going from the yard, one might expect some problems to arise from time to time, but that has rarely been the case.

In fact, Terry said that he has actually picked up more basketballs than he started with, as kids tend to leave them and sometimes, just never pick them back up.

“There are always basketballs around if the kids don’t bring one over,” Terry said.

Terry built that basketball court, and the kids keep on coming over.