Berston Field House Celebrating 90 Years of Tradition



For nearly a century, countless individuals have walked into Berston Field House of Flint with high aspirations, and dozens of these aspirants have seen their dreams come true. Thus, Berston has operated as a proving ground for Flint’s top-notch athletes. Berston Field House is more than just an athletic complex, however: it is truly a unique piece of the community with a longstanding history.

In 1930, Berston became one of the Midwest’s first integrated public facilities of its kind, housing a community library and swimming pool in addition to the sports arena. The Yellow Dogs were a 1940s softball team that drew thousands to the field house to enjoy evening games, and to this day, thousands still come out for softball games at the field house. Berston has also been home to the Creative Expressions Dance Studio for the past 30 years and has recently become a base for a local bicycle club and The Chosen Few Arts Council.

On Saturday, July 27 Berston celebrated its 90th anniversary and The Chosen Few Arts Council celebrated its one-year anniversary the same day. For the past year, CFAC has provided art and music classes for youth at Berston though the efforts of Valorie Horton and Omar Batson. A typical session with Chosen Few at Berston features Horton teaching pottery and poetry while Batson teaches studio recording and production, which makes CFAC a hit among area youth. The Chosen Few Arts Council worked closely with other Berston enthusiasts to bring these performers together for the anniversary celebration. The festivities featured live performances, bounce-houses, refreshments and artists, making the event a party for the entire family to enjoy. Performances included the band Affaire, demonstrations by the students of King’s Karate, and select routines by the tap-dance group Tapology.

Evaett Webb of Flint was excited to be a part of the anniversary festivities, calling Berston an “icon” and praising the day’s celebration for its ability to “bring the community together.” Webb’s own memories of Berston include swimming in the pool when she was young and receiving immunization shots through public health services. Along with Webb were hundreds of people of all ages, many of whom hold fond memories of the time they have spent at Berston. Some might wonder, given the fact that Berston has been without a director for quite some time, what it is that has kept the field house going for all these years, and the answer is simply the community. City Councilman and City Council Vice President Bryant Nolden volunteers his time to open the building to the public and maintain the grounds, and his motivation for doing so is quite simple. He says that “it’s just needed for the community” since he believes that youth need recreational activity to curb their potential to “end up in some trouble.” He lightheartedly stated that after youth play sports for a while they become tired, and once they are tired they “go home, get a shower and go to sleep, so we know that they won’t end up in any trouble.”

It is always heartwarming to be able to share lifetime memories with close friends and family members, but there is something especially touching about being able to reminisce with an entire community of people. Berston Field House is an example of a place that has fostered the creation of memories that an entire community can share. It’s not a hollow shell with ghosts of times past wandering the halls, it is a living and thriving center that has given Flint and the nation prominent examples of athleticism, sportsmanship, and community engagement for 90 years and counting.


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