Having a hoot with hoops: Q&A with the Y's Ron Christy
Updated 2:20 pm, Thursday, February 24, 2011
The new basketball coordinator for the Westport Weston Family Y, knows his way around the hardwood. Not to mention the flight path to the rim -- and making people laugh.
A two-time All-America at Post University, Ron Christy remains the school's career scoring leader and played professional basketball overseas for five years in Europe and Saudi Arabia. But one domestic team, more than any other, leaps from his resume -- the Harlem Globetrotters, for whom he played in 2008 and 2009.
Christy is at the Y five days a week, teaching youngsters fundamentals of the sport. But after playing for the Globetrooters, Harlem Rockets and the Court Jesters, the 29-year-old father of three wasn't ready to walk away from comedy basketball.
So, Christy is juggling his duties at the Y with entertaining the masses as a member of the Harlem Wizards, whom he joined at the start of the year.
"He's definitely one of our high fliers," said Wizards' President Todd Davis. At the Y, however, he's known simply as "Coach Ron."
Christy recently sat down with the Westport News for a Q&A interview that spanned his work in Westport and entertaining thousands of spectators at a time.
Q: Ron, you're a former Harlem Globetrotter who is now the basketball coordinator at the Westport Weston Family Y. What does the position require?
A: What I do is teach kids the fundamentals of basketball, and I try to make it a fun and rewarding learning experience. I teach kids from ages 4 to 13. I'm coaching them to compete.
Q: The children learn the game of basketball from you. What do you think you get out of working with the children? What do they perhaps teach you?
A: I learn that every child is different and they learn the game at a different pace.
Q: Who were your favorite basketball players growing up? Favorite team?
Q: Let's talk about your involvement in entertainment basketball. People have probably gotten confused with so many Harlem teams -- the Globetrotters, the Wizards, the Rockets. You've played for all of them. Can you explain the difference between them? And is any team sort of a basketball version of a Triple-A team for the Globetrotters?
A: Well, the Rockets and the Wizards are very similar. We play a lot of freestyle basketball, with a couple of comedy acts thrown in here and there. The Globetrotters was more like a sitcom. We had to learn a script that had a plot -- a beginning, a middle and an end. A team like the Wizards is in no way a Triple-A for the Globetrotters, meaning they hope to be able to compete with the Trotters in terms of putting on a show that is just as entertaining.
Q: What was it, perhaps more than anything, that earned you a spot on the team from 2008 to 2009?
A: My dunking ability.
Q: Is it the dream of every Wizards or Rockets player to hopefully play with the Globetrotters?
A: Not at all. Some players are definitely happy where they are, and some have turned down contracts from the Trotters.
Q: How many cities and/or countries did you play in while a Globetrotter?
A: Not exactly sure how many cities , but my first tour was in Mexico and it lasted a month.
Q: What was your favorite city and why?
A: My favorite city was Monterrey, Mexico, because while we were there I actually got to see a Kanye West concert, and he is one of my favorite artists.
Q: What was the toughest part of the job and what was the best memory?
A: The toughest part, by far, was being away from my three children -- Aaron, Malachi and Rahnie. The best memory I have is when my friend Chris shattered the backboard while playing a game in Mexico, and we had to do the show half-court.
Q: How do fans differ from country to country? Do they react differently to the comedy, or the skills, from one country to the next?
A: No matter where I've been, no matter what language is spoken, the fans always react in the same way, with oohs and ahhs and laughs.
Q: You're playing with the Harlem Wizards now. How far does this team travel and how are you able to juggle playing with the Wizards and being the YMCA's basketball coordinator?
A: The furthest we travel is California. Excluding the Califonia game [last week], every other game is pretty close [in the Tri State Area] so after work, I always have time to get to the game. I also mentor children with special needs for a company called Inclusion First.
Q: I heard you used to play street ball on the famous Rucker Park courts in Harlem. Should every basketball player put in some playing time there?
A: From a basketball player's point of view, you must play at Rucker Park. If you're good enough to get a nickname, they say that's the only nickname that counts. So in my first game I scored 50, and earned the name "Quiet Assassin," or Q&A," because I score so many points quietly.
Q: Whether playing street ball, college ball or pro ball overseas, what did you bring to the table every time you stepped on the court?
A: The team always knew what they would get from me. I played hard at all times.