An emotional Don Donaldson no longer conducts his long-running youth basketball program in Ceres. He gave the Ceres City Council an explanation last month why he is leaving to conduct the program in Hughson.
Donaldson frequently complained in recent years to the City Council that he could not get use of school gyms, which are run by Ceres Unified School District. For many of the 34 years of the program Donaldson was used to getting the use he desired. However, things came to a head when the city and CUSD developed an agreement that use of school facilities would be priority for non-profit organizations.
Facility availability is not the only problem Donaldson has encountered. He gave detail to several incidences in which he was assaulted at school facilities while overseeing his program.
During an incident at Blaker Kinser Junior High on Jan. 9, 2010, Donaldson pulled a teenager outside for a lecture after disrupting his staff. The mother came out and punched Donaldson in the face that left him with a broken tooth and medical costs of $3,200. She was booked on charges of assault and battery.
Another incident had Donaldson answering to CUSD headquarters over the matter of a paper cup but said he could get no help when a participant was called a derogatory name.
"I took it in my own hands to handle this," said Donaldson. "I can't believe that the Ceres Unified School District and the Police Department can't help somebody whenever they're in a need like this. I'm hurt on that situation."
During a Feb. 5, 2009 incident, Donaldson and a parent got involved in an argument with the father claiming that Donaldson punched him but did not press charges. Then on March 4, 2009, Devekio Rudd called police about Donaldson's behavior after the two argued about their two competing basketball programs. Officers took no action but told Rudd to get a restraining order if he did not want Donaldson near him.
"I just don't feel like I have the support," said Donaldson. "I don't feel that the things that I run into, I might as well call the Sheriff or somewhere like that whenever I have a situation like this. I just don't understand a person who runs a program for 34 years ..."
He also explained that he eliminated teams because he didn't have enough facilities to handle all who wanted to play. Donaldson also noted restrictions placed on his program.
"I don't know why my basketball program has to be finished at 9 o'clock (p.m.) when the baseball, they've got their lights on at 10, 10:30. That's okay, if that's what you want."
At the conclusion of Donaldson's 13-minute venting at the April 22 meeting and was sent away with kind remarks from the council.
"I don't know where you're going with this (program) now, Don," said Vice Mayor Ken Lane, "but I wish you, obviously, the best in your endeavors, whether it's here in Ceres or in Hughson or wherever you choose to play. But I know you've put a lot into this program for a lot of years. I don't see that unrecognized."
Councilman Bret Durossette said Donaldson's contributions helped some players become successful high school and college players.
"It's unbelievable," said Durossette of Donaldson's accomplishments. He advised Donaldson to go to the School Board because they have final say in the use of their facilities.