Evans discusses his mission with Rotarians
Mike Evans, former Weston High basketball star, recently told the Sunrise Rotarians how he used basketball as a social tool to make peace among Catholic and Protestant teenagers on the warpath in Belfast a while back.
He said his "most unusual sports story" came to a happy ending when the captain of one team finally said to the captain of the other, "nice shot" during a particularly important game.
And then, the captain of the other team answered back, "Thank you."
The words marked the first time in months that one member of the team spoke to a member of the other team - and received a reply back.
Now that may not seem like much, Evans allowed.
"But under the circumstance of months of not talking to one another and actually hating the sight of one another, the breakthrough, documented by `nice shot' and `thank you' actually was a great victory in my crusade of using basketball as a social tool," Evans said..
He intends to use the same basketball strategy in the future --making peace between warring teenage factions in Cuba first, and later "in the world's most violent city" - Ciudad Jurez, Mexico.
This offbeat use of basketball as a kind of peace pipe will be expanded behind the banner of a non-profit organization Evans is founding. It is called Full Court Peace.
"This is what I want to do as my life's work," he said.
After the presentation, Rotarians crowded around Evans, congratulating him for being a young man who is taking a different path--stars in his eyes and altruism in his heart.
"Best thing we have ever heard from a speaker," was the gist of comments as Rotarians crowded Evans, rushing to shake his hand or pat him on the back when he finished his presentation..
Here's the story behind this unusual sports story:
Evans, a Weston native, graduated from Hamilton College in 2005 with a degree in education. He lived for a period in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
There, he assembled and coached the city's first ever half-Catholic and half-Protestant boys high school basketball team. The Catholic players hated the Protestant ones and in return, the Protestant ones hated the Catholic ones. The teenagers behavior mirrored sentiments among adults.
Currently, Evans, a 2001 graduate of Weston high, teaches Spanish in the Weston School system. He will pursue a master's degree at Harvard University in the fall.
"My life's goal is to use the game of basketball as a social tool in countries of unrest," he told the Westport News. "I expect it to take a lifetime."