In Aviano, building cultural bridges through basketball

DODDS-Europe boys basketball teams from Aviano and Vicenza will spend the weekend learning valuable lessons in both basketball and statesmanship.

The two Italy based American schools will share a court with Croatian youth club team Rijeka in a series of three games Friday and Saturday at Aviano High School. Here’s the schedule:

-    Friday, 1830: Rijeka vs. Aviano
-    Saturday, 1000: Rijeka vs. Vicenza
-    Saturday, 1500: Rijeka vs. Aviano

Aviano head coach Ken McNeely – known as Coach Mac to anyone associated with European youth basketball over the last three decades – made contact with Rijeka’s coaches while running youth clinics together in Croatia. The idea for a mutually beneficial set of games occurred to both of them, and they worked to make it a reality. 

Basketball is not merely incidental to the event; McNeely is excited at the prospect of his Saints being tested by “a really great basketball team” ahead of its Dec. 14 DODDS opener against American Overseas School of Rome.

But sportsmanship and cultural understanding are the weekend’s guiding principles. Parents of Aviano students are hosting Rijeka players in their homes for the weekend, and the three teams will share a communal meal before the Croatian team departs Saturday evening.

“I want them to have an opportunity to meet other kids from other places,” McNeely said. “I think that’s what’s important.”

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Gregory Broome is an experienced and accomplished community sports journalist. Officially a native of Iowa, Broome grew up a Department of Defense dependent at sites all over the United States and Germany.

He finally settled in Florida, earning a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Central Florida.

Broome began his journalism career in in 2004 as a sports writer for the Ocala Star-Banner in Ocala, Fla., covering high school, college and community sports and earning recognition for his work from the Florida Press Club. In 2009 Broome was named the first sports information director at College of Central Florida, an NJCAA member school, where he launched the program's website and social media pages and revamped its promotional and game-day operations.

Broome joined Stars and Stripes in October of 2012.



Twitter: @broomestripes

Phone: DSN 583-9301; Civ 0631-3615-9301


Broome on AFN


Stars and Stripes reporter Gregory Broome talks about the Europe sports scene on AFN Radio. (Click on right arrow to play file)


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