Zachary Chu’s passion for coaching led him to a dream opportunity of interning this past summer with Nike, which allowed him to travel the world and meet some of the biggest names in professional basketball.
As Chu was heading into the summer before his senior year, he was looking for an internship that would help him get into the coaching field. With the help of a family connection to Nike, he was presented an opportunity that he could not deny. “I’ve always had a strong interest in coaching … This internship felt like the best thing to do as I’m looking into coaching as I graduate college,” Chu said.
Nike was really interested in Chu’s background. He is a rising senior on the Spiders' basketball team, and is majoring in finance. Nike hired him as a non-paid intern and sent him to travel across the world to work with Nike’s Grassroot programs, which develop international basketball talent in 15- to 18-year-olds in Asia.
Chu’s internship started in early June when Nike flew him to China to work two summer camps. The first camp he helped coach was the All-Asia camp in Guangzhou that housed players from seven different countries. Chu worked with five NBA coaches and a few players such as Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. “It was such a big opportunity being around people who have such an impact on basketball today,” Chu said.
The second camp was the NBA Basketball Without Borders camp, which took place in Taipei, Taiwan. Players from 16 countries gathered to learn from NBA coaches such as with Cody Zeller of the Charlotte Hornets and Ronny Turiaf of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
A challenge for Chu was being able to communicate with the players. “One coach told me, ‘If you can coach in five languages, you can certainly coach in one,'” Chu said. When a coach would speak there would be multiple translators on the court relaying the message in the players’ native language.
While the chance to travel to China was a memorable experience, Chu said the best moment was going to Barcelona and shadowing Nike’s Director of International Basketball, George Raveling, for the FIBA world cup, basketball’s world championship. “The impact that he’s had on the game for a very long time now is very significant … The experience I had with him, I really learned the most from him,” Chu said.
Raveling has many accomplishments, one of which is being the first African American basketball coach in the ACC. “He really changed the way I think about basketball, the way I think about life. He is a mentor figure to many people and that’s what he became to me,” Chu said about his experience in Barcelona from Sept. 5-14.
Chu plans to use what he learned to help the Spiders’ this season. Spiders’ head coach Chris Mooney said Chu played a big role preparing his team for opponents. “He has a great feel for what the other team is trying to do. Instead of it just being the coaches stopping and calling out a play, Zach can get us in rhythm by going into what they are trying to do. It doesn’t give us a chance to reset and makes us learn on the fly,” Mooney said.
Mooney and his players see Chu’s passion for the game and said they believed he could become a good coach. “He’s usually the one running plays on the scout team, and I think that will really help him with coaching because he knows what college teams like to run and how they are successful,” said Kendall Anthony, senior guard.
The challenge for coaches is the beginning, Mooney said. The first few jobs are usually the worst, and it is difficult to get past those first stages. Chu said he understood the challenge and he wanted to accept it. Chu said he made numerous connections with Nike but did not plan on looking for a job there after graduation. He said he wanted to follow the path of his first love: coaching.
Contact reporter Justin Williamson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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