The park is named after a Lebanese-American comedian, actor,
entertainer, and humanitarian, who graduated from Woodward
High School and attended the University of Toledo.
and Nancy Corbett Athletic Complex
presented by Group1001 features a 75,000-square-foot
multisport synthetic turf field that will be used for football,
soccer, and baseball/softball and provide local youth with a
safe outdoor place to play. There are future plans to improve
the basketball courts and other sections of the park. Toledo
it a “world class sports facility.”
“I cried, because after 27 years of being on that field and
actually cutting the grass and pulling the weeds, I won’t have
to do that anymore. It’s turf,” said Tonya Durán,
long-time baseball coach and Believe Center executive
director. “I was excited.”
The Believe Center currently has 131 kids in its baseball
and soccer programs. But poor weather and snow on the ground
forced cancellation of a soccer skills demonstration and
scrimmage that was scheduled as part of the dedication ceremony.
“They’re the ones who are going to benefit from it,” said Ms.
Durán. “They’re really excited about playing on that field. It’s
going to get a lot more use because it’s safer grounds now. We
won’t have to worry about the potholes in the infield. We won’t
have to worry about trees or limbs falling down. It also brings
pride back into the (Old) South End because the city did
something like that in the South End.”
At the noontime dedication ceremony on Nov. 13, where major-league
baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. celebrated the new
field with Mayor Kapszukiewicz, former state senator Randy
Gardner and other community members attended. But they
remained quietly in the background, silently reflecting on what
the day meant long-term.
“Sometimes those with deep pockets get the most recognition. That’s
okay, because it’s got to come from somewhere,” said Ms.
Sabina Elizondo-Serratos, executive director of Adelante,
Inc. “But there are also people behind the scenes who make
stuff happen. Tonya Durán was one of those. This has been a
long, long day in the making. She stayed focused [on the bigger
“I believed, is what I did. I believed, that as coaches, we made a
difference in these kids’ lives,” said Ms. Durán. “There are
players who have come back and are coaching for me now. They’re
giving back. I was at (a recent event) and someone came up to me
and asked if I remembered him. He told me I was the best coach
he ever had—and I just cried.”
The complex is designed for multisport play, including dugouts,
a backstop, digital scoreboard, bleachers, foul poles, soccer
goals and field lighting.
According to a press release, the facility will serve as the
central location for programming offered by the YMCA of
Greater Toledo and The Believe Center, “directly
supporting thousands of at-risk youth who are exposed to
high-risk factors, such as above-average crime rates, families
living below the poverty line, and a high number of children
being raised in single-parent homes.” The athletic complex is
the first and only one of its kind in Ohio, according to the
Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.
Afterschool programming, such as organized team sports, also
will be a part of the equation. Such organized activities serve
as a powerful alternative during widely unsupervised time
between 3 and 6 p.m. Research suggests 29 percent of all violent
crime committed by juvenile offenders occurs during those hours.
The Historic South Initiative became one of the driving
forces behind the project, bringing in some heavy hitters behind
the scenes to provide funding, including the Cal Ripken, Sr.
Foundation; St. John’s Jesuit High School alumni, including Rick
Corbett, for whom the athletic complex is named, the city of
Toledo, and state government through a capital improvement
Other funders included: Group1001, the Andersons Fund Supporting
Organization, Owens Corning, Owens-Illinois (O-I), ProMedica and
KeyBank. The Ripken Foundation has completed 90 multipurpose
synthetic turf facilities in 23 states and Washington D.C.
The Believe Center director is among those who secured a
$200,000 grant from state lawmakers to help fund the project.
She recalled she didn’t know what to say during an interview in
Columbus when the funds were at stake. But she was blunt and
direct with state senators and representatives who would make
those capital funding decisions.
“I told them, ‘You took Libbey [High School] away. You took Newbury
[elementary school] away. You took Westfield [elementary] away.
And you took Jones [junior high school] away. Now you’re taking
Marshall [elementary] away because it’s becoming a STEM
(academy). What do our kids have?’ It’s not fair,” she recalled.
“I’ve realized that the words we use and the questions we ask
are powerful. That’s what I teach my kids now.”
But Tonya Durán also showed her student-athletes firsthand what can
happen if you use powerful words and ask the right questions to
achieve good in the community.