Phalen Leadership Academies (PLA) held a breakfast Nov. 8 at the James and Rosemary Phalen Leadership Academy to announce the Sean Cowdrey Health and Wellness Complex coming to the Far Eastside of Indianapolis in 2025.
PLA CEO Earl Phalen and former Colts player Marlin Jackson spoke about the impact the Cowdrey Complex will have on the community and what it will offer. The complex will be open to students and community members of all ages; the first of its kind for the Far Eastside.
“This community has never had anything like that. A beautiful space to come walk, clear your head, play, be creative … this is critically important, and our kids deserve it,” Phalen said.
The Cowdrey Complex will help students in sports programs at the James and Rosemary Academy, which it will be located next to, as well as community members of all ages on the Far Eastside.
“Stuff that works in our community doesn’t necessarily work in other communities,” Phalen said, highlighting how the Cowdrey Complex will specifically cater to the needs of the Far Eastside community.
The Cowdrey Complex will have an outdoor regulation-sized football field that will also be used as a soccer field, regulation track, concession stand and locker room for students.
Currently, numerous after-school sports teams practice on the same turf field at the same time and students must travel to other school’s fields for home games.
Students talked about the mental toughness it takes to play home games at other schools without the support of their parents and community members who cannot attend games due to the distance from home. The new complex will allow the parents and fans of the Rosemary Phalen Leadership Academy to travel to home games to support their children.
Phalen made it clear that the complex is meant to provide a sense of pride and comfort not only for students but also the entire Far Eastside
The complex will be open Thursday through Sunday for multiple events to support the community.
“Yes, it’s a field for our scholars, but hey, if you get up on Sunday morning and you are part of a walking club, it’s going to be open … Saturdays for flag football, soccer, cheer and dance,” Phalen said.
During the winter, it will be open to the community for indoor basketball leagues and pick-up games or for young adults to have a place to just be.
“You hear a lot of kids say, ‘Just a space to clear your mind and have a walk, support mental health and overall wellbeing,’” Jackson said.
Jackson cherishes the opportunity to be a part of the work PLA is doing and contribute to the growth of a community like the one he grew up in.
“The experience that I had growing up in an environment like this that didn’t have assets, that had crime, that had trauma, and understanding the impact of all that, that’s why I’m so grateful to be a small part of it, to be able to advocate, and to be able to lend my voice to the cause, because I understand how transformational this is.”
Jackson also expressed just how effective Phalen’s work is in this community.
“This is true community development that’s taking place. The entire model of PLA and what Earl has established and built it is a template for how to holistically go into a community over a period and create significant change.”
Phalen hopes to raise $10 million to develop the Cowdrey complex by 2025 through donations from individuals, the City of Indianapolis Parks and Recreation, and various other foundations and corporations. The organization has already received donations from the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program, the Glick Family Foundation and the Central Indiana Land Trust.
Contact Racial Justice Reporter Garrett Simms at 317-762-7847.