Alumnus Nick Diatta (’09) recently came back to campus to visit and talk about the summer basketball camp that he established and ran in his home country of Senegal this past summer. Nick played basketball while at MVA and throughout his college career, playing for Southeastern Oklahoma State University, South Plains College in West Texas, and graduated from Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri, with a bachelor’s degree in business.
While he studied at Montverde Academy from 2006 to 2009, he was always driven to give back to his community and established a program that collected shoes which were sent back to Senegal. He also put in motion plans to develop a summer basketball program in conjunction with a school that would help students develop a love of the sport.
This past summer, conjunction with Levi Cobb, a former MVA coach, and seven Senegalese coaches who donated their time and expertise, Nick was able to offer a free 10-day basketball camp for youth in Dakar. They expected to have about 100 students, but were overwhelmed by the nearly 200 students interested in participating. Montverde Academy supported the program by providing a donation of clothing.
There were even MVA staff members who made a mission trip to Senegal to help run the program. Jeanette Nederveen, upper and middle school French teacher, spent two weeks in Dakar teaching French and helping with the camp. She also collected clothing and school supplies for the students there. There was also an MVA K-Kids project of collecting school supplies to support to the program.
“Basketball gave me the opportunity to get a good education, travel, meet new people, and do what I love which is playing basketball,” said Nick. “I was fortunate to have this opportunity and want to give back to my community. This program shows students that with hard work and commitment, you can earn opportunities that you never expected. I also want students to know that even though I studied abroad, I remain connected to my roots and always look for ways to help others.”