William Simms: Grade 6
As part of a class research project, I interviewed Mr. Roney Eford and Mr. Ardian Skenderi, two world-class basketball players from the Buckley community.
William Simms: Please tell me about your experiences with basketball.
Roney Eford: My experience playing basketball professionally was a lifelong dream of mine. I truly enjoyed living abroad and impacting people’s lives while playing. It is important to note that I did not get any playing time on my outside teams from the age of 11 to 18. This fueled me to work on my game and improve while everyone else was content. I still apply the lessons learned in basketball to life currently.
Ardian Skenderi: I started playing basketball when I was seven years old at school. There were coaches that would go to different schools and pick the students that they found talented. When I was 14 years old, I was selected to play for my city, Vlore. At 17, I was asked to play for the best team in the country, which was in Tirana. The team was part of the army. I moved to Tirana so that I could train and play on that team. I then moved to the national team to represent my country. While playing for the national team, a coach from Greece recruited me to play for his team. I then moved to Greece and played on that team.
Basketball changed my life because it taught me discipline, how to be a better person, and how to have a winning mentality. There were many struggles I faced, and it wasn’t always easy, but I never gave up. The training gave me mental and physical strength to endure the challenges that arose.
WS: What position/positions did you play in basketball?
RE: The guard and forward position.
AS: 2/3 Shooting guard
WS: What countries did you play in?
RE: Germany, Portugal, China, Korea, Japan, Belgium, Iceland, and Switzerland.
AS: Albania and Greece
WS: What years did you play in professional/elite basketball?
RE: I had an eight-year career.
WS: Why is basketball so popular from your perspective?
RE: The game in my opinion is popular due to the globalization of the sport. The game is broadcasted and seen throughout the world, which has heightened the interest. The marketing of basketball from around world is extensive.
AS: In my opinion basketball is so popular because it is a sport that everyone can play. It’s fun for all ages. A family can get together and play a game of basketball no matter their skill set. And the fact that more and more people can play basketball makes it easier to understand and more fun to watch.
WS: I’m curious about how professional basketball players train. When you played professional basketball, how long did you train on a daily basis?
RE: Five to six hours a day. This included weight lifting, conditioning, skill work, and team practice.
AS: During the season, I trained every day for five to six hours a day.
WS: How did you train on game days as compared to other days?
RE: Our game days would consist of a morning shoot around and stretching. We would then watch film as a team. This schedule also varied depending on the international flight schedules as well.
AS: On game days training was much lighter. I would mainly do stretches and practice my shooting.
WS: How did you train during the off-season?
RE: I had a personal trainer that assisted with my conditioning and stretching. This was to prevent injuries. I would work on my weaknesses and map them out for each week to try to get better.
AS: During the off-season, training was the most grueling. I would train for seven to eight hours per day. It was a place where we were challenged, both physically and mentally the most.
WS: What did you like most about training?
RE: I enjoyed the aspect of being able to see your results fairly quickly within a season.
AS: I loved learning new things and building my strength.
WS: What did you hate about training?
RE: I did not enjoy running and conditioning practice that would about 30 minutes daily. I felt I was in great shape and felt the coaches were making us run because management pressured them to do so. However, it was a great team bonding experience.
AS: The part that I hated about training was the soreness and the exhaustion.
WS: I really love basketball, so I wanted to do a research project on the sport. Thank you very much for answering these questions for my research project.