Four years ago an idea was formed by the assistant coach, David D’Allesandro, to organize a youth basketball tournament in Chieti, Italy. Raised in Chieti since he was 10 years old and then moving to The Woodlands in 2014, David would frequently get asked questions about US basketball and the differences with Italy. “I thought it would be nice for them to see with their own eyes. Bringing the two worlds together – what a better way than sports and teenagers?”
Houston Swish was formed alongside head coach Ferdinand “Yogi” Williams, a ten-year veteran coach from Phoenix, AZ including surrounding Houston areas. The next few months practices were held twice a week at Crossroads Church in Magnolia with AAU tournaments played in between. When asked about their preparation Yogi said, “These young men have displayed tremendous passion, intensity and dedication during the previous 3 months of skills training, conditioning, practices, scrimmages and games to prepare for this trip. No matter the size, athleticism or skill of our opponents these young men play together and execute a winning strategy because they believe in each other.”
On June 13th, the team was en route to Italy and within 24hrs of touching down they were off playing their first game. “This opportunity to travel abroad to Italy and experience basketball in a different environment with different rules, different languages and challenges was a priceless experience. I expected this trip to be a lifetime memory, but it also empowered these young men to overcome adversity, maximize their potential,” said Yogi, who then noted perhaps one of these boys may be inspired to play or coach basketball beyond high school.
Their two weeks abroad included more practices and scrimmages, but there was plenty of relaxing on the beach and exploring the beautiful town of Chieti. Chieti is amongst the ancient of Italian cities, situated in the Abruzzo region, a few kilometers away from the Adriatic Sea with the Majella and Gran Sasso mountains in the background. According to mythological legends, the city was founded in 1181 BC by the Homeric Greek hero Achilles and was named in honor of his mother, Thetis. It was called Theate.
When the captain of the team was asked to share his favorite experience about this trip, Federico D’Allesandro a sophomore at The Woodlands High School responded, “Since we moved to The Woodlands I felt like I belonged to two different and separate worlds. My Italian friends and then my friends from the US. It was amazing to see how quickly and easily these “worlds” merged together though! I was also very happy that there were true connections made between my two groups of friends. I have a feeling these two groups will be seeing each other again.”