Thunder and Thunder Fellows Tour of the White House

By | November 16, 2022

By Nick Gallo | Broadcast Reporter and Digital Editor |

Images by Alex Dawson, Bree Maxwell and Zach Beeker

Thunder Fellows go to the White Home

WASHINGTON DC — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s tresses brushed the underside of a decades-old chandelier. Mike Muscala slipped beneath a 6-foot door body, hitting the unique exterior wall of the White Home as he walked via an underpass. In entrance of the well-known South Garden, nonetheless, gamers crane their necks upwards to get a full glimpse of ‘the individuals’s home’.

Kicking off the Thunder’s journey this week to Washington, DC, the touring group – together with gamers and coaches – traveled to the White Home on Tuesday. Nzinga Collins, 14, and Reece Robinson, 15, joined the workforce, two of the Thunder Fellows highlighted in “Seeds of Greenwood,” a June 2022 movie produced by OKC Thunder Movies that documented the primary 12 months of the workforce. progressive after-school program in Tulsa.

A century after the Tulsa Race bloodbath, the movie explores how the present technology of black highschool college students in Tulsa are planted and nurtured within the fertile soil of historic Greenwood. This system curriculum consists of information science and coding with networking alternatives within the sports activities and leisure industries. The movie follows the delivery of Thunder Fellows and the inspiring journeys of the inaugural class college students.

“They (Collins and Robinson) are nice representatives and ambassadors for this program,” stated Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “We’re extremely pleased with this system and particularly pleased with the children who signify it and for them to be there with us as we speak was superior.”

On Tuesday, Collins and Robinson took half in a partial screening of the movie attended by Thunder gamers and White Home workers. Then there have been discussions concerning the movie and a wide range of political points between gamers, fellows and White Home workers, starting from schooling to healthcare to felony justice.

“We all the time discuss rising as basketball gamers, however the most effective development in life is as a human being. Seeing these youngsters rework in such a short while is particular,” stated Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who had quite a bit to study as a Canadian nationwide. “They’ve a vivid future and I am glad to be a part of this program.”

“It was actually cool to have our voices heard and to have the ability to have an open dialogue about various things that we see,” added rookie guard Jalen Williams. “It was cool that they needed to listen to from us and it was cool that we obtained to provide our opinion as nicely.”

Previous to the screening and dialogue, the Thunder moved via the East Wing of the White Home on a historic tour, passing via hallways that Presidents and first households have used because the development of the wing in 1902. The east wing historically hosts social gatherings just like the Easter egg roll, 4th of July festivities, state dinners, and championship celebrations.

The Thunder’s tour started on the White Home Household Theater, which was transformed right into a dressing room in 1942. There, the workforce was briefed on numerous options of the White Home by just a few Secret Service personnel who’re a part of the 200+ member workforce that providers the 55,000 sq. foot premises. The President, First Woman and their kids and grandchildren all have Secret Service particulars, and so does the Vice President and his household. On Tuesday, the Thunder additionally had their very own element.

“It is actually superb. I by no means thought I might be right here on the White Home,” Collins stated with a smile. “I want to be president, so vote for me in 2044.”

Because the Thunder awaited a ‘motion’ from First Woman Jill Biden’s Secret Service from one a part of the White Home to a different, Thunder ahead Kenrich Williams, who likes to remain out of social media and the limelight ramp, requested a really on-mark query. He was curious if there was anyplace on the grounds of the White Home the place presidents might have privateness. The reply: solely upstairs within the higher flooring of the residence.

As soon as given the “inexperienced mild”, the contingent of greater than 60 members of the Thunder group walked via a hallway of iconic images of former presidents and into the Vermeil room the place portraits of first girls are displayed. Then it was within the White Home Library, the Roosevelt Room and the China Room – the place dishes from presidents right down to George Washington are displayed in show instances on the wall.

Thunder gamers took selfies and documented their journey via the East Wing, however nowhere had been extra photograph ops than again exterior, in entrance of the stately and exactly manicured South Garden that lies pours in the direction of the Washington Monument. Even with an everyday drop of recent rain, Thunder gamers made certain they’d the total view and understood all the pieces. They had been actually in essentially the most prestigious constructing within the nation, an expertise not often granted however humbly accepted.

“We’re within the season and the video games are emotional and that narrows your attain and people varieties of experiences broaden it,” Daigneault stated. “It is essential to have the ability to put these life experiences into the bigger context of our guys’ lives and experiences as gamers.”

“There are lots of issues we attempt to do to develop the entire participant and the entire particular person,” stated Will Dawkins, vp of basketball operations for Thunder. “It was a terrific alternative to speak about issues which might be essential to them and essential to the group and convey them to the White Home and have discussions about it. It is a good day while you discuss creating an individual’s full profile.

Again inside, Muscala ran her fingers alongside the stone partitions inbuilt 1792 and having survived the Struggle of 1812, a fireplace in 1929, and the damage and tear of outdated age. A lot of the White Home underwent an enormous renovation in 1952, however in 1973 a particular addition was made to the basement – a one-lane bowling alley. Thunder ninepin aficionado Tre Mann rated as much as 300 he might bowl within the underground lane. His teammate Aaron Wiggins reminded him that the tight confines could be like a recreation on the highway for him, not the acquainted lanes he is used to in Oklahoma Metropolis.

The final cease on the tour earlier than the screening and dialogue was upstairs within the Blue Room, the place gamers peeked via extremely thick glass to get a glimpse of the West Wing. Within the East Room, gamers stood aside as White Home workers ready for a go to from tribal leaders from across the nation for Tuesday night time’s celebration of Native American Heritage Month, an occasion Lindy Waters III of the Thunder attended.

Earlier than everybody left the foyer and headed again downstairs, Collins and Robinson had been standing exterior the Blue Room, the place the presidential seal hangs simply above the door. Alongside them was Thunder Fellows Govt Director Cedric Ikpo. They needed to sneak collectively in a single final selfie, beneath this iconic emblem, to doc the gargantuan journey from the ideation of the Thunder Fellows program in the summertime of 2020 to a go to to the White Home simply over two years and a primary film. later.

“Coming right here as we speak and being referred to as by title by individuals who work so excessive, it was motivating to see me right here in the future,” Robinson stated. “It was a tremendous expertise. I did not count on this film to take me this far to see the White Home.