Hi, I’m Nathan Smith! I’m a Communications and Development Intern with PeacePlayers this summer, and I’d like to tell you how I got here to begin with. I was born and raised in College Park, Maryland into a basketball family. Every one of my siblings played (I’m one of six), and I played in high school at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.
I remember the first time I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I was 12 years old, and was reading an issue of Sports Illustrated for the first time. I decided to read the magazine in order, so it I breezed through the stories until I got to the end. SI typically has longer pieces towards the back of their issues, long form journalism that is about more than just a sport, or just an athlete. They are stories about people who have faced adversity, towns and teams that have survived despite trials of great magnitude, and it tells stories that I never would have ever known about. After the first one of those articles I read, I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
I’ve always thought of sports to be more than just games people play. I’ve seen how sports bring people together in a way that nothing else can, and to me that is the most underrated thing about them. I’ve seen teammates who fight off the field praise each other on it. I’ve seen people with personality differences change when they had to come together as one. I’ve spent thousands of hours playing the game of basketball, but it was the camaraderie I created at DeMatha, and the family that developed from that,which I now remember and cherish.
No matter what’s going on in your life, whatever you have to deal with, you can ignore it when you flip on the television or go to a game. For a few brief hours, you can lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, something grand and majestic that takes you away, transports you to another world of bats and balls, last-second shots and game-winning touchdowns.
PeacePlayers brings sports into the real world – outside the gym, field or court. It uses sports, something people know and love, to show them that they can love others to just as much as they love the games and sports they care so passionately about. I’ve seen it first-hand from one of my older brothers, Joe Smith, who is currently an international fellow for PeacePlayers in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
It isn’t easy to bring sports into the real world. All too often, most sports talk involves superstar athletes or people with other-worldly talent. But they shouldn’t be the only story. Every single athlete on this planet, every single person in this world, has a story, a story unique to their situation, their struggle, their triumph. I’m driven to tell those stories, and this is a wonderful place to do that. I strongly believe that you can explain the world through sports, and that you can change the world through sports. I’m very happy to be helping at both.