SDSU coach no longer alone in coaching barefoot

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - South Dakota State University men’s basketball coach Scott Nagy was one of the first coaches in the country to go barefoot for Samaritan’s Feet, a charity that provides shoes for needy children. He’s no longer alone in the Dakotas.

High school and college coaches in several sports throughout North and South Dakota are now coaching without shoes to support the cause. In the next week alone, men’s basketball coaches at three separate colleges in the Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., metropolitan area are going shoeless.

“It’s really great to see how it has taken off,” Nagy said. “It’s certainly, to me, a worthwhile cause. Unless you’ve been to a Third World country to see it, it’s hard to explain or understand.”

The charity was founded by a former North Dakota college basketball player from Nigeria who grew up in a two-bedroom cinder-block house shared by 13 family members. Emmanuel “Manny” Ohonme received his first pair of shoes when he was 9, delivered by a missionary from Wisconsin.

Ohonme went on to play basketball on a full scholarship at what is now Lake Region State College in Devils Lake, N.D.

Samaritan’s Feet began in 2003, but it didn’t start thriving until 2008, when Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis basketball coach Ron Hunter shed his footwear and help generate donations for shoes. The next year, Nagy and a handful of other college basketball coaches got on board.

Within five years, hundreds of college basketball coaches had helped the charity buy shoes for nearly 5 million children in 60 countries. Now the shoes will go to kids at home, as well. The goal this year is to raise enough money so that both North and South Dakota will get 2,014 pairs.

It’s no longer just basketball coaches, either. SDSU football coach John Stiegelmeier went without shoes during pre- and post-game festivities in one contest last fall. Wrestling coaches at two high schools in Bismarck also participated.

Nagy’s interest was both a charitable and personal one. He got involved shortly after he adopted a daughter from Haiti. Last May, to support the charity, he took his team to Haiti, where they delivered shoes to hundreds of children.

“It was incredible. In all my years of coaching, it’s probably the best thing we’ve ever done for the kids to take them on a trip like that,” Nagy said. “To expose them to what the rest of the world is like and expose them to conditions that are pretty harsh … it’s pretty shocking.”

As part of the tradition started by Ohonme, the SDSU players first washed the feet of each child before slipping on the shoes.

“It’s kind of a humbling thing to sit and wash somebody else’s feet or even to have your feet washed,” Nagy said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus