Off the Press

July 17, 2012

By David Hayes

Globe trot stops at Issaquah clinic

David Hayes
Press reporter

The summer basketball clinic has long been a right of passage for youths as they fill their months with activities while school’s out.

Burgeoning athletes will get a treat this year as the world tour of the Harlem Globetrotters makes a stop in Issaquah. The business 24 Hour Fitness has partnered with the seminal clowns of the hardwood to bring Fatima “TNT” Maddox to help teach the fundamentals of the game.

However, due to limited space at 24 Hour Fitness, there’s only room for those signed up for the clinic, and their parents, to watch the Globetrotter’s newest female member in action.

Calling in from Philadelphia, Maddox talked about the clinic, herself and what it’s been like in the renowned fraternity.

Having just joined the Harlem Globetrotters in February, Maddox said she hasn’t done any actual globe-trotting just yet — there are a couple of squads overseas right now and a show coming up performing for the troops.

“But I sure have seen a lot of the United States,” she said.

Maddox is just the ninth female to don the signature red, white and blue uniforms made famous by the likes of Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, Meadowlark Lemon and Curley Neal, perhaps the team’s best dribbler in its history. Those are some big shoes for Maddox to fill, as she, too, was recruited for her ball-handling skills.

“I’m learning all kinds of tricks,” she said. “I’m known for a killer crossover that got nicknamed by the kids ‘The Cyclone.’ I’ll probably show that one off at the class.”

At 28, Maddox got to where she is with a late start, not picking up a basketball until she was 13 in her hometown of Colorado Springs, Colo.

“I always wanted to be a professional athlete,” she said.

Her route to the Globetrotters roster went through the Universities of Arizona and Temple, and some overseas basketball on the Swedish squad.

Then came an invitation to tryout for the Trotters in Philadelphia, against about 20 guys and four other women. After several auditions and interviews, she was the last one standing.

Maddox said she’s since been welcomed into the fold by the guys.

“They’re a great group of guys,” she said. “It’s like having 30 bodyguards everywhere I go.”

She figures she’s been to more than 200 schools and hospitals and other venues touting the virtues of the team.

“While I talk about the fundamentals and help develop skills at these clinics, it’s more about character building, cooperation,” she said. “And it doesn’t really matter if they’re that into basketball. I want them to enjoy themselves, whether they’re athletic or not.”

Maddox was too young to remember seeing the Globetrotters as a child. But when she got to see them again in college with her Temple teammates, they left a lasting impression, one she now hopes to pass on.

If you miss her at this week’s clinic, Maddox said not to worry. While the Globetrotters came to Seattle just last year, Maddox looks forward to joining the squad the next time it’s in town.

David Hayes: dhayes@isspress.com or 392-6434, ext. 237. Comment at   www.issaquahpress.com.

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