AUSTIN (KXAN) - - A non-profit sports complex in East Austin has again fallen victim to vandals.
Eastside Fields, the only track and field facility in the neighborhood on Thompson St., aimed at giving area children a chance to stay healthy and compete at a first-class facility.
The former Dallas Cowboy player and Austinite who founded Eastside Fields in 1992 says he's getting tired of the mischief which has also included damage to numerous sprinkler heads on the grass playing field.
“You give back to the community, but it gets increasingly hard,” said Thomas “Hollywood’ Henderson who, according to his website played seven years in the NFL in the 70s as a star linebacker, helping lead the Cowboys to three Superbowls.
Henderson attended Anderson High School when it was located at the same site at Eastside Fields, home to the then Anderson Yellowjackets. The school moved in the early 1970s to Northwest Austin, leaving the East Austin area without an athletic centerpiece until Henderson took it over and formed the East Side Youth Center and Street Outreach.
Early Monday, someone defiled the old Yellowjacket Stadium walls with paint taken from a locked maintenance area. The thieves were industrious, first smashing in metal venting at the base of several heavy metal doors to gain access.
Once inside each of several small rooms, they unbolted the durable locks from the back of each door. Henderson said they got away with some tools and a new weed trimmer.
The break-in prompted an angry challenge from Henderson as he sat outside the facility, Monday, waiting on a locksmith to make repairs.
“I'll give the guy a thousand dollars to bring me my weed eater and tell me why the h-ll it's okay to steal from kids in East Austin," he said.
This six-acre urban field is Thomas 'Hollywood' Henderson's treasure. Over the years thousands of young athletes have joyfully trampled the grass here learning about fair play in Pop Warner leagues.
Henderson says aside from football and cheerleading events, 200 people in East Austin use the track daily for recreational and fitness activities.
Over the years, this star pro linebacker says the facility has been broken into five times. Each time, the hit gets tougher to take. Henderson says donated dollars in the foundations’ bank account will cover the cost of repairs. But he says that money should have gone to other improvements.
Recently, Henderson said he spent four thousand dollars putting new wood benches on the aging bleachers that line center field.
Other fundraising efforts focus on a loudspeaker system a playscape for children.
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