Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Americans We Are Still Discovering: Jon DeMello

Have you ever Met Someone with an Incredible Ability to Pick up a Sport?

Did that person continue to improve at a rate you never thought possible? Did he combine his natural athletic ability with a natural sense of where to be and what to do in this sport? Did he pick and choose his spots to talk shit in order to subtly throw you off your game?

Jon Picked Up Sports at the Drop of a Hat

Meet Jon: a former professional wrestler (the real kind) and club rugby player for the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. Jon switched to wrestling from playing and coaching hockey (including an athlete with down's syndrome) his freshman year of high school, and in three short years he built his skills to take fourth place in his weight class at the Kelsey-Graves tournament. He was part of a powerhouse Brooks School Wrestling team. His senior year of high school, he transfered to Nashoba Regional High School, where his coach encouraged him to join a club team and start wrestling for money.

Jon takes on Rugby

Once he entered college at the University of Edinburgh, he decided to take on rugby. He started at the intramural level as a fresher, and climbed the ranks all the way to club level. He did this all while taking up boxing as well (I am not sure how successful he was at boxing, but you can assume he was.)

Jon and his new sport: Basketball

Over the last three weeks, he has taken up playing basketball consistently for the first time in their life, and the results are Where Amazing Meets Extraordinary. He has an amazing sense for the game and displays his strength and agility.

Jon and his Sense for the Game

His basketball smarts are most on display when he is off the ball on the offensive side. Without any instruction, Jon makes v cuts, sets picks at the perfect time, rolls to the basket and gets in good boxing out position. He also plays decent defense and makes good decisions when he has the ball, even if these aspects of his game are not as inspired as his off the ball offensive play.

Jon Uses his Athletic Ability

His strength and agility are most on display when he is forced baseline by their defenders. Those fans who play and watch basketball know this may be the most difficult position to be in on the basketball court. You are often behind the backboard, which makes shooting a near impossibility. Usually another player on the court can help your defender to trap you without leaving his man, effectively cutting off passing lanes. You are forced to put the ball on the court and use your strength to create something out of nothing or, for most people a worse tactic, try to find a teammate on the perimeter. In these situations, Jon puts his agility and strength to the test because he keeps his dribble and uses his strength to get a lay-up on the strong-side or use their agility and quickness to get to the weak-side for a reverse lay-up.

The ability of Jon is shocking. The fact that Jon can pick up sports so late in his life can be frustrating to us who sweat like gym rats everyday just to become sub par basketball players. That people like Jon can handle his amazing abilities with such grace, dignity and humility makes it so it is only possible to love them.

If you know someone who is an American you would like to nominate for a "The Americans We Are Still Discovering" article, please send your submissions to me at

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