Basketball has indeed been my passport to visit new places, people, and experiences. Now I do have a literal United States Government issued passport, I just used it on my trip to Israel. The connection I had to visiting Israel in the first place was because of basketball. My friend David Lasday runs the Netayna Hoops for Kids program in Netanya, Israel and for the past two years I have worked with the organization to help run basketball clinics in the city. The amount of Hebrew I speak and the amount of English the children speak can be counted on one hand, but we are able to work together. Basketball crosses all types of barriers; language, ethnicities, mental and physical disabilities, you name it basketball can bridge the gap.
I have visited places that I would have never thought of, but because of playing and now coaching I am visiting the world and meeting people from all walks of life. I have played or taught basketball in 23 states and two countries. In the last two years I have been able to meet children and coaches from Indonesia and the Republic of Congo to share information with each other on what we know about basketball and life. I have the opportunity to work with KEEN of Greater Washington, a great organization the works with children and young adults with developmental and physical disabilities through sport and recreation activities. I was approached because of my basketball background to run their basketball Saturday clinics, which I have been for the past two years. We have create a team at KEEN we are the “Wildcats” and it is great to see them work hard and improve their skills and the best part many of the drills I conduct with them I would conduct with someone without disabilities.
Would I have had these connections without basketball? Maybe, but I doubt it. Basketball is a non-discriminatory sport, I can proudly say my life revolves around it or as my players at Paint Branch would say, “Ball is life”. I started playing as a child and now I teach others how to play. My company teaches children how to play basketball, but the truth is I am a motivator and instructor teaching children how to work through problems, finding joy in accomplishing goals, and how to keep an open mind that anyone can contribute to this game and to life.
I am excited to see where or what experience basketball will bring next. Whichever way the ball bounces I will be sure to follow. So yes it can be just a “game”, but keep in mind if you stay focused, keep your eyes up, and take advantage of what’s in front of you this “game” can be so much more. There are many means to explore this world but basketball is definitely my passport.
Rochelle Coleman, Owner, RAC Basketball