Friday, October 31, 2008

It was Louisiana Tech head coach Kerry Rupp and his staff that were treated to a special visitor Friday morning in the Thomas Assembly Center.

Ian Naismith, the grandson of James Naismith, the inventor of the game of basketball, made a brief stop during The Naismith Good Sportsmanship Tour to go through Ruston, address students at A.E. Phillips and finally meet Rupp and his staff while seeing the improvements made in Tech’s basketball program in just over a year’s time.
“This is a very special time for our basketball program and the university to have a representative from the Naismith family here to see our facilities and to address our players,” Rupp said. “The ideals that Dr. Naismith emphasized when he founded the game are exactly what we are trying to focus on with our program and that’s the need to get an education, be held accountable and to give back to the community and others. It’s an honor to have someone from their family here, because these are ideals that are very special to the Bulldogs’ program and myself.”
The tour is out to promote good sportsmanship, teamwork and positive role models using basketball as a basis. Naismith teaches an awareness of the history and heritage of the game of basketball and the importance of higher education.

“What we sell is respect, dignity and role models,” Naismith said. “My grandfather’s desire was to give this game to the world and to leave it a better place.”

Naismith said he was pleased with how attentive the students were to his tour and also how historic Louisiana Tech is for basketball.

“The kids this morning were so respectful,” Naismith said. “You could hear a pin drop while I was talking, and then the following Q and A was just littered with questions. Add to the fact that Karl Malone played here is history in itself. It’s exciting for me to be here right now.”

Naismith is the founding director of The Naismith International Basketball Foundation in Chicago and holds many distinguished positions in national and international sports organizations. The foundation presents a highly prized sportsmanship award and supports basketball camps for underprivileged youth.
In 1891, James Naismith invented the game of “Basket Ball” at Springfield College as an indoor recreation. Since then, basketball has become the fastest growing worldwide sport in history and is now played in over 200 countries.

“This is not that old of a game,” Ian Naismith said of the sport and his tour. “We need to get out on the road and show what we are about.”

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