Photo provided by the Harlem Globetrotters
When Swish, aka Bria Young, takes the court at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon, it’s going to be much more than another stop on the Harlem Globetrotters tour through the United States and Canada. This is her hometown. She played her high school ball in South Philly and went on to achieve collegiate success at nearby Philadelphia University. This time, the stage is much bigger — a crowd of thousands cheering her on as she attempts a four-point shot or the dribble slide.
Yes, the ticket requests have been made — we are talking about 200 of them.
Luckily, her Globetrotters are playing three games at the Wells Fargo Center, so she doesn’t have to worry about saying “sorry” to her family members and friends. The Philly stopincludes one game on Saturday (noon) and two on Sunday (noon and 5 p.m.). Unlike the previous stops on the current tour, Young knows this one is going to be one she remembers for years to come.
“As much as I am trying not to have a different mindset, I think I will,” Young said. “I hope to make everyone proud, make a couple of [four-point shots] and have fun.”
She arrived in town early to handle some of the public appearances.
“It’s only my third day back and it’s great,” Young said during Monday afternoon’s phone interview.
Being a member of the Harlem Globetrotters isn’t just about all basketball, all of the time. Players also need to be role models to young children and give back to the community. For the West Philly native, this includes visiting elementary schools to talk with students. Of course, Monday’s appearance at the Blair Christian Academy had an extra special meaning as she was returning to her old elementary school not as Bria Young, but as Swish — the 14th female in Harlem Globetrotters history. Besides chatting it up about growing up in Philly and defying the odds, she was there to spread an important message about the ABC’s of Bullying Prevention in which she explained how to use Action, Bravery and Compassion to combat bullying,
“At first I was a little nervous,” she said. “Once I walked into the auditorium with all of the children there, my nerves kind of went away.”
Young’s story is an inspirational one, as the road to becoming Swish — a nickname she acquired after joining the Globetrotters thanks to a jump shot that consistently goes swish — was far from an easy one. Her high school career at Preparatory Charter High School, 1928 Point Breeze Ave., did not go exactly as planned as a result of a serious knee injury that she suffered as a teenager, forcing her to miss significant playing time as a Lady Husky. Many athletes would’ve given up hope of his or her professional hoop dreams becoming a reality, but Young was not one of them — even after going through two ACL reconstruction surgeries within a span of six months.
“At first I thought it was all over, but a little voice within told me not to give up, so I didn’t and I worked harder than ever before to rehab my knee,” is how Swish retells the story in her online bio.
Things would turn around. Young would return to the court her senior year at Prep Charter, and helped Prep Charter defeat Central High School for the girls basketball Public League championship — the first in program history.
“It was huge for us, not just me, but our program,” the 5-foot-6 guard recalled.
For Young, those career dreams were getting back on track as she accepted a Division I scholarship to play basketball at St. Francis University, but her stay ended up being a short one as a result of being homesick. What came next, however, opened the door for Young to put her game on full display. She transferred to Division II Philadelphia University, which she described as “the best decision for me.”
Young, who majored in Psychology, enjoyed a stellar four-year career with the Rams that included tallying 1,067 career points and being named the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Player of the Year and helping her team win a league championship her senior year.
But she was far from finished. South Philadelphia natives Mike and Joe Richmond helped with lining up the Globetrotters tryout, and as they say, the rest is history. Swish is one of four female players currently on the team, with the others being TNT, who played college basketball at Temple University, Ace, who hails from Harrisburg, and Hoops. In today’s professional basketball world, other opportunities could arise via the WNBA or overseas, but Swish is quite content calling herself a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
“I think the Globetrotters is the job for me. I don’t see myself going anywhere,” she said.
The Harlem Globetrotters
When: Noon March 4; Noon and 5 p.m. March 5
Where: Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St