Zalgiris Kaunas has continued its contribution to One Team, the highly successful social inclusion program of Euroleague Basketball, by naming Marius Grigonis and Thomas Walkup as its new One Team Ambassadors.
The backcourt stars are playing an active role in supporting the club's attempts to guide local teenagers who are searching for their life goals by helping them find themselves, develop new skills and understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
During the first meeting between the One Team participants and new ambassadors Grigonis and Walkup, the players shared their stories of how they managed to get where they are now and overcome the obstacles in their lives.
Grigonis is adamant that goal-setting is a key part of success, saying: "Everything was pretty plain and simple for me, as my whole family played basketball. I immediately fell in love with the sport, and I was quite good at it, too. I had the talent and I understood that it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
"I wasn't the best example for others, though. I think we all have that rebellious period in our youth, as we all try to find our own way. We have to continue to keep on setting higher goals as we head through life. That is the base of it all."
Walkup doubled up on his teammate's comments, saying it is vital to surround yourself with the right people and just keep on moving forward no matter what.
"I got infected with basketball immediately," he reflected. "I'm really happy that I found something I love so much so early. I've run into several serious obstacles, notably injuries, but I never even had the thought of giving up. I kept working, no matter how difficult it was. My family helped me so much, supporting me all the way through and helped me keep my head up and stay on the right path. I wish for all of you to keep working hard no matter what you have to face, and find something that makes you happy."
The main aim of the One Team project is to educate through basketball, and for these two players that all starts through teaching the importance of setting, planning and carrying out goals.
The partner of this year's One Team program at Zalgiris is Kaunas's Psychological Support and Consultation Center, which provides professional guidance to all in need, ranging from teenagers to families. For the second consecutive season the club's activities have also been strengthened by the support of RAMIRENT. The organization, which has been socially active for several years, cooperates with Zalgiris in helping the One Team participants find creative ideas for the weekly workshops.
One Team, supported by Turkish Airlines as the One Team Founding Patron and with the collaboration of Special Olympics as Proud Partner, uses basketball to achieve meaningful social impact in our communities across Europe and is supported by every club in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup.
Since its founding in 2012, the One Team program has already helped more than 16,000 participants through its various team-focused projects.