ST. JOHN | The Catholic Schools Week celebration at St. John the Evangelist School included fancy moves on the basketball court along with a good dose of character building.
The school welcomed Steve Granata, of Academic Entertainment, and his show, Totally Courageous Basketball, during a special assembly Thursday afternoon. Granata, an athlete and motivator from Dayton, Ohio, used stories from his childhood and well-honed athletic skills to talk to students about the importance of hard work, education and making the right choices.
Sister Gianna Marie Webber, St. John’s principal, said she had seen Granata previously and thought he would be an entertaining and instructive performer for Catholic Schools Week. Thursday was Granata’s first appearance at St. John the Evangelist, he said.
After the student assembly, Granata put on a second show for parish families Thursday evening.
Granata, who attended Catholic schools, described his younger self as a lackluster student and athlete. But one day, during a school assembly, he became enthralled by the basketball skills of an athlete/performer. “I could barely make the basketball team,” said Granata, but he set out to teach himself those same skills. Practice made perfect, and he was able to eventually learn court tricks worthy of the Harlem Globetrotters.
During the assembly, Granata spun the ball atop a pencil and the tip of an umbrella. He made the ball roll up and down his shoulders and behind his back. He dribbled two balls together so quickly they became a blur. But he didn’t learn those skills overnight, he reminded the enthralled students.
“Big is small and small is big,” he said. “In order to do the big things, you have to take small steps. It’s not where you start, but how you finish.”
He then invited two students, seventh-grader Hannah Rodimel and eighth-grader Ray Hilbrich, to join him in a demonstration. Both Hannah and Ray had basketball experience, he pointed out.
Both learned how to dribble the ball in a rat-a-tat pattern, do a spin before resuming dribbling, pass the ball from one hand to the other, and finally to perform the same moves while handling two balls at once.