Oct. 6, 2008
Washington, D.C. - In early August, former Georgetown men's basketball player Sead Dizdarevic had the chance to do something he had wanted to do for a long time. Along with several of his former teammates and one of his coaches, Dizdarevic was able to bring the Hoyas to his home country in Montenegro.
Dizdarevic - along with former teammates Ashanti Cook (C'06), Darrel Owens (C'06), Amadou Kilkenny-Diaw (C'06) and RaMell Ross and current Director of Basketball Operations Matt Henry - said that upon reflection, the trip was something that he had always envisioned.
Upon donning the Blue & Gray jersey at Georgetown in 2003, Dizdarevic had hoped he could put a trip like this together. As a youngster, he dreamed of playing basketball. At one point, he considered dropping out of school to pursue his passion, but his parents encouraged him to continue his education.
That led him to North Highland High School in California, where he enrolled as an international exchange student. Georgetown followed by offering him the opportunity to earn his degree - he did, in government, in 2007 - and to play basketball. On the Hilltop, Dizdarevic was a part of the 2006-07 Final Four team and helped the Hoyas reach the postseason in three straight years.
After pursuing a professional career overseas following his graduation, Dizdarevic returned to the Nation's Capital with the thought of bringing Georgetown basketball to his country.
He worked with the United States Embassy in Montenegro, secured funding from the U.S. State Department and Opportunity Bank and contacted his friends to help him out.
The six Hoyas left in mid-August for Herceg Novi, Montenegro, where they conducted a series of eight clinics for 50 youngsters from the age of 13 to 16, 40 from Montenegro and 10 from Croatia.
"We taught them about basketball, but we also told them about the importance of education, which is really the most important thing for me," Dizdarevic said. "I wanted to show them that someone who came from the same background as them can accomplish so much. There were times when I wanted to quit school and just play, but the opportunities I had can be reached by them too."
Having his former teammates there to help him along the way was a big plus too.
"Each of the guys who came to my home did the same thing as me, they used their ability to play basketball to get an education," said Dizdarevic, who works at Georgetown's Center for Intercultural Education and Development. "The point of the visit wasn't just to show them the proper way to shoot or to set a screen, it was to show them that they combine both, playing basketball and getting an education, to better themselves."
"It was a great experience," Henry said. "Sead really put a lot of time into planning this out and I think I can speak for the other guys in saying that it was a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience."
Dizdarevic's original idea was to have one of his Georgetown teams make a preseason tour of Montenegro, but that was too difficult to arrange. He developed this current idea with Judith Jones, a public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Montenegro. "A lot of it is a tribute to Sead," Cook told the Washington Post. "He's very caring and likes to give back. He's just a really, really good friend, and someone you can trust. So why not drop what you're doing for a week to hang out with him and help him and see how his culture is?"
The clinic was such a success and received such favorable reviews that he is hoping to do it again in the future.
"The guys who went with me seemed to really enjoy it," Dizdarevic said. "It meant so much to me just to go back and be someone who was once in their shoes, but it was really the starting point for a dream I've had for so long. It was one of those times where a dream becomes a reality and it was as good as I thought it would be."