In a little more than a month, Jasmine Bishop and Matt McGinley will leave behind their friends and family and head to Rwanda to begin their year as a Shooting Touch Health Corp Fellows. We at Shooting Touch are excited for the amazing journey Jasmine and Matt will have, as well as the enormous contributions that they will bring to our program in Rwanda.
So far 8 Fellows over 5 years have traveled around the world using the power of basketball to educate and inspire youth, and Jasmine and Matt will be the fourth pair to go to Rwanda. The three previous years of Fellows in Rwanda have built a great foundation that will allow the two to hit the ground running. Also returning to assist the Fellows is 2014 Fellow Lisanne Comeau who is returning to Rwanda as the country program director. Both Jasmine and Matt are busy getting ready for their trip, and we had the chance to catch up with them earlier this summer. Here is a little of what we learned.
Jasmine Bishop grew up in Waterville, Maine where she was part of a high school basketball team that won 3 straight state titles and went 69-0 over that time. She then went on to graduate from Thomas College with a BA in Sports Management and just completed a one year accelerated program at Thomas to receive a Masters in Sports Management. Jasmine was also a four-year starter in college, known for her team-first attitude and hard-nosed style. Besides her playing career, Jasmine was the Head Coach for a JV high school team in Maine for a season and also has coached at many camps and clinics. The biggest area that Jasmine wants to focus on during her Fellowship is increasing and improving the health education of the kids in the program. With her experience in sports management, she has the skills necessary to coordinate all the moving parts that go into health and health education.
Alongside Jasmine will be our other Fellow Matt McGinley who hails from Garden Grove, California. He graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Communications. Matt has worked in marketing and web development during and right after college, including a job for Nature’s Flavors where he was in charge of all digital marketing and budgeting for the launch of a new sugar free soda. Most recently he worked as a part of Road Trip Nation, traveling around the US to under-resourced communities to talk to students about the importance of finishing school and possible career paths. Matt’s passion for working with young people is immense and a big reason why he sought out Shooting Touch. He is a veritable basketball junkie, known for carrying a basketball with him everywhere, even throughout his time studying abroad in Sweden.
The two Fellows have begun organizing fundraising and equipment. Matt has worked hard to get shirts and shorts from the Portland Trailblazers, and he is also in the midst of a shoe drive. He is also practicing phrases and basketball terminology in Kinyarwandan (the lingua franca in Rwanda) so that he will be able to quickly move past the phase of being a complete ‘muzungu’ (foreigner) to the phase of familiarity reached by all the fellows before them. Jasmine has been fundraising, talking to community members in Maine about raising money which will helpfully go towards putting lights on the courts in Rwanda. Already synergized in their pre-departure fundraising and outreach efforts, the pair will prove to be a force of immense change.
In summing up his excitement for his time in Rwanda, Matt says, “Now I get to share this passion of mine with a group of kids who have a completely different background than mine, but I know they will be going through a similar transformation that basketball did for me. That’s where amazing happens.” Jasmine echoed that sentiment saying that when she found out about Shooting Touch, she “knew at once that it fit perfectly, being able to help others and using basketball.” Each will bring a unique set of skills, experiences, and contributions to the program, but what they will soon find out is that they will soon have to learn a lot in order to be successful. Complemented with sharing their love of basketball, Matt and Jazz will also receive a great deal from their experience; soaking in Rwandese culture and navigating around infrastructural and environmental roadblocks impacting our youth daily.
Jasmine and Matt will meet each other in person for the first time at their orientation and Shooting Touch’s Annual Gala Celebration on September 19, 2015 and our whole staff and board could not be more excited. While at the Gala the outgoing pair will have the opportunity to talk with past Fellows, including both of the 2014 Fellows Lisanne Comeau and Remy Ndiaye about their experiences. Then a few days later they will depart for Rwanda and begin their yearlong journey. We are excited to see what Matt and Jasmine accomplish during their Fellowship and how they grow because of the experience! Follow them on their journey as they mark the fourth year of Shooting Touch bringing education and inspiration to individuals and communities using the power of basketball.
We hope to see you all September 19th at Norwood Airport and Boch Aviation for the 6th Annual Shooting Touch Gala Celebration. Get your tickets quick, we are almost already sold out!
Matt and Jazz will be waiting to meet you and to see all the support raised for their service in Rwanda ensuring that every child can exercise their Right to Play.