Globetrotter uses basketball to battle bullying
An anti-bullying program last week at Birchwood ABC Elementary was a slam-dunk.
Much to the delight of the hundreds of screaming children packed inside the school’s gymnasium, Harlem Globetrotter Julian “Zeus” McClurkin provided the high-flying lesson as part of the world-famous basketball team’s community outreach program.
“We developed a program called ‘The ABC’s of Bullying Prevention,” he told the students, who sat in rapt attention as the North Carolina A&T graduate dazzled with an up-tempo display of basketball tricks interspersed with lessons about life.
The “ABC’s” in the program’s name stand for Action, Brave and Compassion. McClurkin explained the meaning of those three words as they apply to bullying prevention.
“The best way to take action is to tell a teacher,” he said. “The best way to be brave is to walk away. And the best way to have compassion is to make that person your friend for the day.”
The event was filled with typical Globetrotter hijinks and hilarity, including a clapping game that had students squealing with joy and a ring-around-the-rosey dance that saw the 6-foot-8 McClurkin leading students and teachers skipping in a circle as the rest of the students giggled, sang and cheered.
McClurkin also told his personal story about being cut over and over again from every basketball team he tried out for. In fact, he said he didn’t make his first team until he was a junior in high school. McClurkin said he was told by some coaches that he was “too nice” on the basketball court. But he said he never changed to fit someone else’s idea of what he should be — a lesson he shared with the students at Birchwood.
“If you’re a nice person, stay a nice person,” said McClurkin, who holds the Guiness Book of World Records mark for most slam dunks in 60 seconds. “Don’t let people try to change you and tell you you have to be mean to make it in this world.”
Founded in the 1920s, the Globetrotters are one of the world’s most well-known basketball teams. Combining a mix of showmanship and athleticism, the team has played in more than 120 countries.
McClurkin and his teammates are in Alaska for exhibition games Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21-22 at the Alaska Airlines Center. Saturday’s game is at 7 p.m., with Sunday’s contest at 2 p.m.
McClurkin came out to the small school in Chugiak thanks to the efforts of the Birchwood ABC Parent Teacher Association, which sold tickets to the games. Tickets can still be purchased online starting at $32 each.
After dazzling the children with some tricks and fun games, McClurkin finished his presentation with his trademark move — a one-handed dunk on the school’s basketball hoop. The crowd went wild.
Before he left, McClurkin told the children that the most important thing to remember is to be themselves.
“There’s a place in this world for you just the way you are,” he said.
For more information on the Globetrotters, visit them online at harlemglobetrotters.com
Contact Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or (907) 205-0082.