This is kinda cool! I got an email from JD Walsh about his projects in India and I thought you might like to know about it; from what I understand he travels around the world teaching kids how to shoot hoops. Now you may wonder why, what’s the point? But actually what a fabulous way to teach young minds everything from team-work to time well spent the healthy way! Here’s his story in his own words. (Psst! There’s a whole website too!)
I get this question(s) all the time, “You’re a basketball coach in India? ” “Why basketball, in India? What are you really doing here? ” To understand the answer to that question, it might be easier to understand a little about my background. I grew up in the basketball mecca NY, and my dad was a basketball coach – thus, since the time I was about two years old, I was dribbling a ball around. In my late teens, my basketball skills matched my height (I am 6 ft 8) , I became a good enough player to receive a basketball scholarship to University of Maryland. There is some divinity at play as my parents are 5ft 9 (dad and 5 ft 4 (mom) respectively.
Although not NBA material, I was a good player and my career was hi-litghted by ACC All-Star Tour Selection in 1994 and some big games on national television. Unfortunately, after my freshman year, I succomd to back surgery which really hurt my chances of maximizing to my potential. I played a short time semi-professional in Dublin , Ireland. A few of college my teammates did played in the NBA, Walt Williams, Evars Burns, Joe Smith and I competed against a ton more. I started coaching after a brief stint on Wall Street and opened a basketball school in 1998. Since inception, a little over ten years ago and have since run it all over the world.
I love the way the ball bounces, going into a zone- forgetting the life around me. It is a place I can go to feel my zen. I love the way basketball can be used as a communication tool to bring people from different backgrounds together. Using the game for positive social change has been a real thrill and gives the basketball a new meaning.
Three years ago, I was asked to come to Kashmir to work with the orphan youth Chinar.org to participate in a project entitled ‘Hoops for Health’. Simultaneously, I received a random email form a boy who was asking me to come and visit and run jdbasketball camp for his club in Pune. Two hundred youth from all over India showed up. It touched my heart to learn some had taken trains for over 48 hours to attend and meet me.
That was almost three and half years ago now, and I still vividly remember arriving at night in Mumbai driving to Pune in darkness. When I awoke, I saw the colors, the smells, the cars, the people and the culture of incredible India. It was love at first sight. The first drive to Ferguson College was amazing, I remember watching people on the street watching me with wonderment. I saw the humanity, and the obvious difficulties and daily struggles.
Over the past three yeas have conducted over 150 days of clinics in 13 cities. I have been down to Kerala and up to Srinagar , East to Calcutta and West to Mumbai. I have worked with some of the top players and coaches in the metros and young Muslim women who were participating in sport for the first time.
I have been to the hospital for a week on food poisoning, spent nights in Maxx (Delhi) Lilavati Hospital and hit my head accidentally on a metal pipe in Dharavi slums requiring 7 stitches. I have taught masses how to shoot, dribble and play defense on outdoor courts, indoor courts and during the monsoons. I have met generations of families who are as passionate about the game as I am and NRI’s who feel a touch of home when I arrive
Many of these experiences have been some of the most extraordinary I have ever had.
For example, last week I was asked to come to Mumbai’s largest Diwali Party at the racecourse. A party was given to 1500 children throughout the city. I was there to volunteer and hand out small gifts. The smiles on the kids faces were precious and I’m not sure who received the real gifts. In recent times, I have been in search of a permant home – a place to host an International training academy to truly promote the game of basketball in India.