July 21, 2010
MADISON, Wis. -- Devin Harris may have turned himself into an NBA All-Star and the subject of a billboard in Times Square but he's never forgotten his roots. A Wauwatosa, Wis., native and one of the best players in Wisconsin basketball history, Wisconsin is never far from Harris' heart.
On Wednesday, Harris, along with Madison School & Community Recreation, hosted close to 100 area youth for a behind the scenes look at athletics at the University of Wisconsin. Following a welcoming talk from Harris, the middle school-aged students toured the athletic and academic facilities at Camp Randall Stadium.
Director of Strength and Conditioning John Dettmann spoke to the kids about weight training at Wisconsin and showed off the Badger weight room. Assistant Athletic Director for Academic Services Doug Tiedt visited with the students about the importance of academics in UW student athletes' lives and Assistant Equipment Manager Terry Calloway gave the kids a tour of the football locker room and equipment room.
"I had a goal when I was young and I had to learn early to surround myself with people who supported that goal instead of people who would make that difficult," Harris told the kids.
"If I had to do anything over again I would have attacked academics harder early on," Harris answered when asked about doing things differently. "I had a counselor tell me before high school that my grades would never be good enough to get a scholarship and that kind of woke me up to fact that academics were so important."
Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez addressed the group, echoing a similar sentiment.
"I used to tell my football players this all the time, know the difference between right and wrong and know the difference between being a good person and being a bad person," Alvarez said. "It's a small investment to make, but the dividends are huge."
The warm summer afternoon was topped off with an ice cream social for the kids, with current members of the Badger men's basketball team (including Jordan Taylor, Tim Jarmusz and Mike Bruesewitz) serving as celebrity ice cream scoopers.
Harris is no stranger to spending time with young kids and hosts numerous events through his 34 Ways to Assist Foundation.
According to his website, the 34 Ways to Assist Foundation was created with three primary initiatives in mind: The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and the umbrella of youth athletics as a whole. Since entering the NBA in 2003, Harris has focused his efforts on giving youth help, guidance and a safe place to play in his home state as well as each of his professional homes like the New York, New Jersey and Dallas communities.