YMCA donor puts basketball coach's name on court

By Tracy Moss

Champaign, IL, News-Gazette

Tuesday March 20, 2007

DANVILLE, IL – The YMCA refinishes its gym floors every year, but this year, the finished product will bear the name of a longtime local basketball coach.

Retired Danville High School basketball coach Gene Gourley's name will grace the basketball courts at the YMCA thanks to a $25,000 donation to the agency by one of Gourley's former players.

Danville native and resident Doug Barnette made the donation in honor of Gourley, his former coach at Danville High, to serve as a permanent reminder of Gourley's contributions to Danville High and the local community.

"It means a lot to me to be able to contribute to a great organization such as the Danville Family YMCA, because this is a place that raised me as a child and shaped my Christian values," Barnette said in a press release.

Barnette played for Gourley, who spent 22 years as a coach and educator at Danville High, from 1984 to 1987. The coach and player have remained close since, said Barnette, who spent countless hours at the YMCA as a youth. He is now the chief executive officer of Player Management International.

The donation will pay for refinishing the YMCA court floor in the large gymnasium, which will be coined "Gene Gourley Court." The rest of the donation will be funneled into the YMCA's capital campaign, an ongoing effort to raise $2 million for a list of building improvements.

John Alexander, executive director of the YMCA, said the donation was an unsolicited offer from Barnette, who has helped the YMCA on smaller projects in the past.

"He was really looking for a way to honor Coach Gourley, and we're very pleased that he thought of the YMCA," said Alexander, who complimented Barnette's contributions to the YMCA and Gourley's example to local kids and the community.

The gesture has honored and humbled Gourley, who described Barnette as a gentleman, entrepreneur and good Samaritan.

"Since (Doug and his family) returned to Danville in 2000, we have become close friends," Gourley said.

Barnette said Gourley deserves the honor, because he has impacted so many lives professionally and personally.

"If it is not for my parents and Coach Gourley, then I feel quite certain that I would not have achieved the success that I enjoy today, because they taught me discipline and what it means to work hard and do things right," Barnette said.

Alexander said the YMCA is wrapping up its capital campaign, which has raised $1.23 million.

It's short of the original goal, but Alexanders said organization officials knew that was a large wish.

Now, the YMCA will be reprioritizing the list of improvements it plans to make with all the donations.

A $450,000 pool improvment project, paid for with the capital campaign money, is complete except for a couple small items, Alexander said, so the next step is constructing a new wellness center at the YMCA.

The remainder of Barnette's donation will go toward the wellness center.