Changing Lives

Posted By: T-John Casiello
Posted On: November 9th, 2016
Attending: Letterkenny Institute of Technology

For the most part, the blogging I have done has been filled with a lot of my experiences of coming to a new country and visiting different cities in Ireland. However, now I want to take the time to talk a little bit about what I am really here for, changing lives of the youth through sport.


One of the most influential people in recent history, Nelson Mandela, said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.” When looking at this quote and thinking about it, one thing, in particular, sticks out in my mind. Yes, it has the power to change the world, and in my case change the youth of Donegal. Yes, it has the power to inspire and unite in a way that little does. But what really sticks out to me is when he says sport is a language and one in which they, the youth, understand. In fact, I know this to be true from first hand experience. For example, you can bring 23 people, from totally different backgrounds, together and stick them in a room. These individuals will be able to speak and bond with each other like they have been friends forever. This was the case for us Victory Scholars when we first met each other. All because we played the sport of basketball we connected. Conversations were easy and stories of past experiences on the court were flying around the room. Therefore, I believe this to be so true that basketball and sports are a way for us to connect with the youth just as us scholars connected that first day.


To talk about it in a more relatable sense, when Jack and I first walk into a gym and start talking to these kids about sports it immediately breaks barriers. And I really mean the first time ever meeting this kids. Through sport, we can connect with them very easily. We share our experiences and the lessons learned from being active, and they ask us questions or tell us about themselves in return. It is amazing how much you can learn from someone when there is no barrier, but rather candid conversation that otherwise wouldn’t occur without the relationship sport has built. That all can happen just by walking in a gym and holding a basketball in your hand. In these cases, I always try and make it my goal to give these kids at least one teaching point that they will remember.


In some cases, we are working with kids over and over on a weekly basis, which is slightly different. An example of this would be the team Jack and I coach, 18U Blaze. In this situation we are trying our best to teach fundamentals of the game and skills you need to succeed on the court. I would be lying if I said it was not extremely challenging. The reason being, these players were never taught the game the right way and some lack essential fundamentals to succeed on the court. However, I constantly try to strive, along with on court stuff, to make teaching points that relate to life. This is where we can make a long-term and quite frankly a more meaningful impact I believe. Yes, learning the skills of basketball will help you in many ways, but ultimately learning skills in life will lead too much more success and happiness.


Looking back I was very fortunate to have coaches at all levels that were concerned with both, how I was doing on the court and how I was doing off it. I can argue, that basketball, next to my parents and school, has taught me more life lessons than anything else.


Therefore, I feel it is my turn to return the favor and do the same for these kids.


I’ll leave you with this quote:


“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”

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