Basketball shoots awareness around the globe

Angelina and Noel Andreoni travel the globe with their Spalding basketball in an effort to unify cultures and create a sense of global community. Equally dividing their time between work and the Shoot the Ball project, the couple manage to solely fund their endeavors. Reminder Publications submitted photo
By Lori Szepelak

Managing Editor



SPRINGFIELD One Spalding basketball has traveled the globe for more than six years uniting thousands of people and the project has no distinct end.

Known as Shoot the Ball, Angelina and Noel Andreoni have made it their mission to unify cultures and create a sense of global community wherever their travels take them.

"More than just a project for fans of basketball, it is for anyone who believes in the pursuit of dreams and passions," said Angelina Andreoni during an interview with Reminder Publications. "An NBA player, a child on Easter Island, an adult from Japan or an elephant in Thailand, no one shooter is more important than anyone else. We are able to cross geographical, cultural and socio-economic boundaries. Issues like age, race, gender, language and level of ability are not relevant everyone can shoot The Ball."

When we caught up with the Andreonis during the Thanksgiving week, they were in Canada on a break.

"Our friends would laugh if you asked them where we reside," she added. "Their response would be 'no fixed address!', however, we do check in from time to time in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, the Florida Keys, and Las Vegas, Nev."

The couple, whose employment most recently was in the Las Vegas hospitality industry, Angelina as a restaurant manager and Noel as a bell person and valet attendant, note they are "very fortunate" to have jobs where they can take off for months at a time.

"In the past couple of years we have given up working conventional jobs and have focused on giving structured presentations to middle-years school children, focusing on cultural diversity and pursuing dreams and passions," she said.

The international ambassadors, who have visited 28 countries and all 50 states with The Ball, created the project to incorporate their own passions of basketball, photography, writing, travel and culture. Shoot the Ball started when Noel made the first shot in Las Vegas on May 25, 2001. Shortly thereafter, Angelina followed with a shot at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan. Since then, The Ball has been shot by thousands of people and one Asian elephant. Equally dividing their time between work and the project, the couple has managed to solely fund Shoot the Ball.

The couple recently visited Spalding's headquarters in Springfield to share their story.

"We approached Spalding via anonymous postcards that read 'shoottheball.net' sent from Cambodia and China in the spring of 2006," said Angelina Andreoni. A year and a half later, we were invited to Spalding for a meeting and they are now the official equipment supplier of Shoot the Ball and are instrumental in helping us raise awareness through public relations support and product donations. We are thrilled to have hooked up with Spalding, a company that is 'true to the game.' They have heart, integrity and a great sense of adventure."

The couple was hard pressed to single out their favorite locations to date, however, Easter Island was one site that stood out from others.

"It was huge getting The Ball shot on Easter Island, the most remote, populated place on earth," said Angelina Andreoni. "It is one of those strange and mythical places that everyone wants to visit, but not very many people do."

Visiting China was also among their more memorable trips.

"In each of the places we had The Ball shot in China, the shooters were very enthusiastic, open and curious; excited to meet people from the west and practice their English," she added. "As interesting as the people, were the places we visited; one day you feel like you've gone back in time to the 16th century and the next day you are thrust into the 22nd century. We loved every minute of it."

During the first week of December, the couple will launch an NBA cities tour with the goal of getting participation from the NBA teams.

"We have already had positive feedback from several organizations," said Angelina Andreoni. "New Orleans will be our midway point on the tour during All-Star Weekend. Many of the schools that have shot The Ball will be tracking us around the country."

The tour will also include a Spalding portable basketball system to U.S. landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, and the Alamo.

Ultimately, the Andreonis would like to see The Ball retire to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield as a worldwide representation of the fans of basketball.

"We have not officially contacted the Basketball Hall of Fame representatives regarding this vision, however, we've been in touch with the Hall about the possibility of working with them in their community relations program," she said.

The enthusiastic couple hope as they travel pursuing their dreams and passions that they will inspire others to do the same.

"Not to pick up a basketball and a camera and 'run away,' but to follow their own dreams and passions, no matter how harebrained it might seem to others," said Angelina Andreoni, noting that as the initiative has evolved, so have their ideas on how they hope to inspire people especially children.

"The interest and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and if this cycle continues, so will we," she added.

"More than basketball, this project is a hands-on way to connect people from around the world," said Noel Andreoni. "We have started to use The Ball as the focal point of presentations in the classrooms of middle school students. The focus is on goal setting and reaching your potential while also incorporating new cultures, history and geography."

Their presentation culminates with the kids joining the project by getting the chance to Shoot the Ball.

For more information on Shoot the Ball, visit www.shoottheball.net.

 
 
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