Deonadrae “Dre” Brumfield has been with the Portage Youth Basketball for three years and is now a board member. Brumfield grew up in Gary where he went to Roosevelt High School and later studied Criminology at Indiana State University on scholarships for football and baseball. However, Basketball has always played a big part in Brumfield’s life.
“I have been playing basketball my whole life,” said Brumfield.
“We grew up in poverty, and my mom couldn't really afford to put us in basketball. She had a friend who was coaching a bitty basketball team in Tolleston. He told my mom to bring my brother and me up to the gym one day. We came home from school and she brought us to the gym. We had never played basketball a day in our life, so we sucked at the gym. From that day on, we started practicing and playing every day.”
From that day in the fourth grade, Brumfield could always be found with a basketball in hand, and would later go on to play for the elementary school team and in the parks. Brumfield and his friends would travel around to various of the parks in Gary to play against others in the city.
“On Saturday mornings we would get up, and we would play at Tolleston Park to see what the competition was in the area and see how well we matched up,” said Brumfield. “Growing up playing basketball in Gary, all of the areas who actually had basketball courts were affiliated with the community or the neighborhood. A lot of those parks you actually couldn't play in unless you were part of that affiliation or you knew somebody there.”
Despite the challenges that Gary presented to a kid who loved basketball, Brumfield kept his love of the game going. He was a part of the African American Achievers Group that was centered around basketball, which showed kids how to be adults and stay off the streets. Then when the opportunity came up to coach his son and stepson, Brumfield joined Portage Youth Basketball to help pass down all of the lessons he’s learned over the years.
“I coached both of their teams, and the feeling came back to me with the desire to help the kids,” said Brumfield. “Once I started doing it, I saw the impact on the kids and then on the parents. One of the main things I tried to focus on when it comes to coaching the kids is not to just coach them for basketball. I try to teach them life lessons as well, to prepare them for life. I mentor all of the kids as well to make sure that they are doing their chores at home and make sure that their hygiene is good.”
Brumfield uses his own experiences to help mentor the kids regardless of their status. Brumfield has heard from childhood acquaintances how they wish they kept on the right path with basketball. The impact that he can have on the children's lives is what motivates Brumfield.
“When I drop my kids off for the bus in the morning, parents honk the horn, or I will see the kids on the bus wave and try to get my attention,” said Brumfield. “When I go to my son's football game, I can't even watch the game sometimes because all the kids keep coming up to me. It is the impact that I see that I'm making on the kids' lives, and sometimes the parents as well that's what actually motivates me to keep doing it.”
When he is not busy with basketball, Brumfield is dedicating the rest of his time to his wife Donielle, and their kids. They have two daughters, and Brumfield goes to watch all of their track meets. He is also writing an autobiography on his childhood and a crime novel.