Page Youth Center
Players in the Page Youth Center’s after-school volleyball programs are among the young athletes living the facility’s continued mission of “Building Character Through Youth Sports.” (Page Youth Center photo)

[Noozhawk’s note: Second in a series sponsored by the Hutton Parker Foundation. Click here for the first article.]

Some people are driven by music or the beauty of nature, the intricacies of a fine automobile or the power of the written word. At the Page Youth Center, the bounce of a basketball, the swish of a net, the slap of a hand celebrating with a high five are the carrots leading to lifelong success.

“Children, in general, are intimidated by sports,” said Tony Mancuso, board president of the nonprofit recreation facility at 4540 Hollister Ave.

“They think they’ll be terrible at them, and they’re right. When you start anything, you’re probably terrible at it. If you work at something over a period of time, that’s when you get better. It’s a great lesson for everyone to learn.”

Mancuso lives for basketball and the youth it serves. In addition to raising a family and serving as chief financial officer of Mission Linen Supply, he also is as one of dozens of adults volunteering as coaches at the center.

“The value is in the learning process, learning that if you want to be better, you have to work at it, that making mistakes is OK,” he told Noozhawk. “Learning not to get down on yourself, but to get out there and try again.

“One hundred percent of that carries over to life beyond the basketball court.”

Page Youth Center — adjacent to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County distribution warehouse and the Goleta Valley South Little League complex, and just up the road from Santa Barbara County Fire Station 13 — is known largely for its winter basketball leagues that serve some 800 area youth in volunteer-driven programs.

But since opening its doors in 1991, it has grown to provide skills clinics, after-school basketball programs, and space for futsal and volleyball activities.

Tony Mancuso

Tony Mancuso, a volunteer basketball coach at the Page Youth Center and its board president, sees a direct connection between life and what youth players discover about themselves on the court. “If you work at something over a period of time, that’s when you get better,” he says. “It’s a great lesson for everyone to learn.” (Page Youth Center photo)

The facility is open for adult and youth open-gym times, Jazzercise, ping pong and badminton. It also can be rented in whole or in part for special events of all sorts.

“You’re getting folks who might normally interact with each other on a daily basis, heck, on a monthly basis, but they come together as a team and learn their commonality and connectedness,” said Tim Grigsby, the center’s program director and interim executive director.

“That is so important and valuable as our world can sometimes get so polarized. This is the antidote in so many ways.”

The center also works in partnership year round with the Cottage Concussion Clinic, CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation) and Safe Kids Santa Barbara County.

“The Page Youth Center was founded and incorporated by a group of local individuals with the vision to enhance the lives of Santa Barbara-area youth by using sport programs to build character, self-confidence, physical fitness and sportsmanship,” Grigsby said.

The center’s most-recent development is its Health Advisory Council, an effort that arose after working with Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital to present the Concussion Clinic in 2017. The event returned in 2018, and now the team is developing additional educational opportunities to improve the lives of its athletes.

“We’re working with other agencies in town to make sure what we’re doing here is positively impacting the safety and health of the community as much as possible,” Grigsby said.

Page Youth Center

Jazzercise draws a different demographic than its youth-dominated programs, but it’s become a popular pastime. (Page Youth Center photo)

More recently, the center has developed a partnership with the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. The Jr. Clippers Youth Basketball Program partners with youth basketball organizations that match their goals of developing skills and sportsmanship among young players.

“We are very excited to enter into the partnership with the Clippers, which brings with it increased opportunities for development for our youth, coaches and basketball program as a whole,” Grigsby said.

Partnership benefits include youth clinics with Clippers alumni, coaching clinics, equipment, sportsmanship programs, discounted tickets to Clippers games and more, Grigsby said.

This will give the Page Youth Center a greater ability to grow and deliver on its continued mission: “Building Character Through Youth Sports,” he added.

The development of health, wellness, sportsmanship and team-playing skills couldn’t come at a better time.

“Team sports provide so much variety of amazing outcomes,” Grigsby said. “Folks who participate in our programs learn to participate and engage in the community with character.

“Not only do these programs keep our young people and adults fit and healthy and active when the trend in society is less and less physical activity, just as important, we bring the community together. Our athletes learn to work with each other and become better partners and teammates and, in extension, better citizens in the community.”

Click here for more information about Page Youth Center, including details about the upcoming Casino Royale Night on Saturday. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk contributing writer Jennifer Best can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.