• Nuggets Star Shares a Positive Message at Sunset Ridge

    Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari is most often seen with a basketball in his hands, either driving to the hoop or launching a three-pointer, but Tuesday he was at Sunset Ridge Elementary playing indoor tennis.

    “Gallo” and the kids loved it.

    The National Junior Tennis and Learning Chapter (NJTL) and the Laureus Foundation brought “Gallo” to the school to talk about the importance of sports and how it can be used to promote social change.

    “Sports is important because it teaches you how to develop relationships with others and how to share a goal,” said the 25-year-old star. “It’s important to work towards something together.”

    Gallinari is in the middle of a rehabilitation program after injuring his knee in April. He is not sure when he can play pro ball again, but he was healthy enough to hit the ball back and forth with students participating in the “Net Time Tennis at Adams 50” after school program. It’s supported by the District 50 Education Foundation and NJTL.

    “This is an amazing turnout,” said Pat Kelly who is the director of NJTL and a board member of the Education Foundation. “Tennis is a great tool to engage students and also have fun. The game teaches great behavior skills.”

    The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation raises money to provide activities for students around the world. Gallinari is one of dozens of high profile “Ambassadors” for the program. At six feet ten inches, he is also one of the biggest, and seemingly kindest.

    He was a huge hit with the kids who had all kinds of questions for him. They also got autographs and had their pictures taken with him.

    Also on hand were tennis coaches from the Coach Across America (CAA) program which supports the Net Time Tennis program in District 50. CAA provides coaches who can step in to offer support for schools that have had to cut sports programming because of budget concerns.

    Alesia Escobar, a Westminster High School graduate is one of the coaches. She fell in love with tennis as a teenager and shares her passion with the next generation of tennis players. “It teaches you to not be shy and have confidence,” she said. “I love to interact with the kids. They remind me of when I was there age.”

    Posted November 14, 2013