March 27, 2023

Coach who mentored hundreds of youth through football honored with park naming

Dontaye Hamilton speaks about his father at parks meeting online.

Dontaye Hamilton speaks about his father at parks meeting online.

Two men who dedicated their lives to make Indianapolis a better place are being honored with park namings – including Richard Donnell Hamilton, or Coach Nell, who was killed in January.

The field where Hamilton spent years mentoring and coaching the Indy Steelers youth football team will now bear his name. 

The Indy Parks and Recreation Board made the designation during a recent meeting, where community members spoke of his legacy.  His youngest son, Dontaye Hamilton, said it was more than football that his father coached.

“He taught these kids a lot basically, a lot of the kids didn’t have strong homes, they didn’t have father figures in their lives, they didn’t have anyone who showed they cared for them,” Dontye Hamilton said.

Through the power of sports, Richard Hamilton taught youth important life lessons and aimed to steer youth away from violence. 

It was only two months ago that Hamilton was shot in an apparent road rage incident in Greenwood. MLK Center Executive Director Allison Luthe worked closely with him, and remembered the day he died.

“The first thing his children asked for when they called me that day was to have this field named,” Luthe said. “It was just two days after the announcement of the Lilly Endowment gift.”

The newly planned, $3 million multi-purpose field is one of many upgrades coming to Indy Parks. The money is part of an $80 million dollar grant from Lilly Endowment.

The Indy Steelers have played on this field for years. When Tarkington Park underwent revitalization in 2015, the field was fenced off and Hamilton held a peaceful protest.

Friend and community member Sabae Martin said it was that type of commitment that made an impact.

“Coach Nell did more with nothing than people with hundreds of thousands of dollars, and he did it with his heart,” Martin said.

On the city’s southside, Bethel Park is also getting a name change.  It is now known as Stanley Stader Park. Stader was a City-County councilor and strong community advocate.

Council member William Duke Oliver said Stader inspired him and so many others.

“The image of this person is one that many will point to and say – that’s the kind of person we want our sons to grow up to be,” Oliver said.

Stader died in 2020.

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