WATERVILLE — Years ago, Jeremy Bishop and his friends would let his younger sister Jasmine play basketball with them, but only if she didn’t slow down the game.

“Growing up, I always played with him and his friends,” Jasmine said. “I tried to keep up with them and tried to get better, so I could still play.”

Jasmine — or “Jazz” to just about everyone she knows — has never lost that love for basketball. She was a part of Waterville’s run of three consecutive Class B state titles, and later played collegiately at Newbury and Thomas.

Later this year, Bishop hopes to share her love for the sport as part of the Shooting Touch Sabbatical program in Rwanda. If she can raise the money, she will travel with the program as a granted fellow and an extension of the staff, and spend approximately 10 months outside the United States.

“I would act pretty much as a fellow,” Bishop said. “We would be over there teaching basketball, building basketball courts, and not only trying to bring the community together through basketball, but also being able to educate the children — like teach them about diseases and health issues.

“We’d also be not only teaching the kids, but we’re also going to work with the adults, to teach them to help coach them,” Bishop added. “We’re going to start trying to do youth leagues and teams. (We’ll teach them to) coach them and officiate, so that all the work that we do will continue when we leave.”

Bishop was one of five finalists for a Shooting Touch Sabbatical fellowship. The organization awards a fellowship each year, with the finalists required to produce a video. Bishop finished second.

“I was just a couple votes shy of first,” Bishop said. “But the head director, Lindsey Kittredge, she really liked what I had to offer and I could bring to their program. So she’s helping me still be a part of their program.”

“It’s a pretty competitive process,” said Kittredge, the co-founder and executive director of Shooting Touch. “We get 70 to 100 applications a year for the fellowship. She really stood out to us as someone who would be a self-starter. Her passion for the game really came through.

“The opportunity would really be the same for her. It would just be an unpaid internship instead of a paid internship. We’re not going to have her just do the side stuff. She’s going to be right in the thick of it.”

Bishop graduated from Thomas in 2013 with her bachelor’s in sports management, and graduated from 2014 with a master’s in business administration. She’s currently working as a substitute teacher at Waterville Junior High School, and is an assistant coach with the Winslow High School girls lacrosse team.

To spend 10 months in Rwanda, Bishop estimates she’ll need about $15,000. She thinks she can earn around $5,000 by working this summer, and is trying to raise the other $10,000 by October through a GoFundMe account.

“Me and my mom are still in the process are trying to come up with some other ideas to fundraise to help me out in any way,” she said.

“I think every fellow that’s gone overseas has gone into a service-oriented job,” Kittredge said. “Two of them actually just got hired by the NBA. Every fellow who comes back from overseas pulls us aside and tells us that it’s changed their life for the better.”

The fellows also have the wonderful stories that come with changing people’s lives in what Shooting Touch calls the “Basketball Peace Corps.” Bishop wants to be the one telling those stories next fall.

“This would mean the world,” Bishop said. “Basketball’s always been my life, since I was a younger kid. Just being able to give back to not only other kids who love the sport, but being able to teach them to love it as much as I do, and to be able to help kids who aren’t privileged. And being able to go overseas would open up a lot of opportunities for me, because I’d be working with Shooting Touch, and also, for half of one of the months, I’d be working with NBA Cares. It’s a great opportunity both personally and professionally.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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