Former Crestwood girls basketball coach continues to mentor area youth.
Wilkes-Barre resident Isiah Walker not only teaches young people how to play basketball, but he also encourages them to follow their other dreams.
Walker, 39, coaches and trains people ages 3 to 45 to play basketball at the Rock Recreation Center in Shavertown. He owns two area basketball teams, NEPA Stars and Stripes and the Pocono Peacemakers, and the business Walker League Sports, which also designs and sells athletic clothing and accessories as well as custom crafts and household items.
Since 11-year-old Aniyah Davis is interested in designing clothing, he encouraged her to join him Saturday at Northeast Pennsylvania’s first Black-owned Business Expo held at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Twp. where they displayed shirts and other items.
Walker trains Davis, a Larksville resident and Wyoming Valley West student, to play basketball and she will play in his fall league. She also likes to design T-shirt decals so he helps her follow her passion. He asked her to come to the expo to get her name out there. He said he likes to serve as a mentor for young people.
“Being able to coach basketball, I come across about 300 or 400 kids on a yearly basis and some don’t want to become basketball players and I know that,” Walker said. “So we have a kitchen at the gym and if you want to become a cook, let’s go. You want to do art or clothing design, let’s go. We got you. You want to become a lawyer? We have somebody to help you.”
Walker League Sports offers activities like yoga and outdoor hiking as well as basketball. Young people also can learn more about other sports like wrestling and karate at the Rock Recreation Center, he said.
“When it comes to basketball, there are only so many spots in the NBA or pro-basketball and when you can’t establish that or follow that dream, I ask young people what is their next biggest dream,” Walker said. “If I could try to help mentor the youth in our area, I would like to do that now at an early age. I tell them not to put all their eggs in one basket. We’re going to focus on that basket and we’re going to load it up but we’re going to have a secondary basket just in case.”
Walker is a graduate of GAR High School and he earned his associate’s degree from Keystone College and his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Marywood University.
He said the purpose of the Black-owned Business Expo was not to segregate one group but to encourage everyone to work together, network, support one another and grow their businesses.
Walker’s many years of playing and coaching basketball have taught him more about the importance of establishing relationships, he said. He likes to share the lessons he learned from playing basketball with young people.
“I tell my kids to come out and have fun, laugh and smile,” he said. “They’re going to be disappointed sometimes. They’re going to be frustrated because the ultimate goal is to win. You’re competing. But it teaches you that there are ups and downs in life and if you understand that, basketball becomes a valuable tool.”