Project Blacktop: Student athlete Cooney works to make a difference in St. Louis​

Tim Cooney grew up in St. Louis and rarely had a place where he and friends could gather and play a pickup basketball game. Cooney, a junior guard on the Washington University in St. Louis men’s basketball team, is trying to change that for future generations.

Through the Rally St. Louis campaign, a nonprofit charity that has developed a platform to empower St. Louis residents to help shape the city’s future, Cooney has started “Project Blacktop.”

Cooney’s goal is to beautify urban areas of St. Louis with functional outdoor basketball courts that serve as hubs for the neighborhood and host community building events. The courts would be eye-catching and appealing, with green space around them.


“I have had the idea to do something like this since my freshman year in college,” Cooney said. “These courts would provide a great way for kids to get out in the community and have a positive example of a neighborhood to lean on.”The amount needed to fund a half court is $10,000 – with the overall goal of $15,000 to fund a full court. Cooney’s idea recently won approval to apply for funding, and he has 90 days to reach his goal. But for this to happen, Cooney needs support from friends, family and the St. Louis community.

The project currently is about 19 percent funded, with $1,871 pledged.

“I am sending this project out to family and friends via Facebook and Twitter. Any little bit helps,” said Cooney, who is the fourth-leading scorer in St. Louis University High School history with 1,180 points.

“I have been in contact with the people in charge at Rally St. Louis, and they are definitely high on my idea,” Cooney added. “I have a few fundraising ideas in the works to help achieve the goal.” There are about two months left.

Cooney wants to build a court and pair it with a community service project, with the vision of hosting youth clinics on the weekends and during the summer. In addition, men’s and women’s adult leagues and 3-on-3 basketball tournaments could be added in the future.

“After the court is built, it’s on me to start a charity or some type of clinic for kids,” Cooney said. “The idea is not to just build a court, but for it to be active.”

Olin Business School Assistant Professor of Marketing Joe Goodman, PhD, introduced Rally St. Louis to Cooney last fall in a consumer behavior class. A Central West end native, Goodman helped Cooney find a lot near campus for the first court.

“I talked about this project in my class and tried to get some students involved,” Goodman said. “I wanted them to try it out and Tim really jumped on it.”

Cooney’s major hurdle, though, is raising the $10,000 for the first court. And he doesn’t want to stop there.

“The overall goal after one court is built, is to move into other parts of St. Louis and build two or three more courts,” Cooney said.

Cooney, a double major in marketing and entrepreneurship, has an internship lined up this summer with Anheuser-Busch Companies as a marketing and sales intern. He expects to graduate from WUSTL in May 2014.

For more information on Project Blacktop or to donate, visit here.