Black History Month: Inspiring Alumni – John Jowers (yes you can…)

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Global Communications Director for Jordan Brand

Q: How did playing for the club make a difference and why career is important ?

I remember being terrified the first time I walked into a Brixton Topcats practice. Jimmy’s voice echoed through every corner of the gym, while everyone hustled quickly to follow his every command. I had never seen anything like it. I spent a good bit of time in South London growing up, but I went to high school in a small town in Essex, so the standard of basketball I was used to was very different. I fell in love with the Topcats immediately. I knew this was the place that was going to teach me the game, and so much more.

I first came to know about the Topcats and Jimmy Rogers through my cousins who lived nearby, in Streatham and Thornton Heath. Every summer, all we ever wanted to do was go to Brixton Rec, and my uncle would come along and teach us the basics. My older cousins William and Joel Lawmann were the first to join the Topcats youth teams in the early 90’s.

A few years later, I moved from Essex to London to go to Brunel University, and joined the Topcats for the ’98-’99 season. I knew I would get to be surrounded by some of the best young players in the country at that time – Marvin Addy, Shaun Gray, Lekan Popoola, Marcus Knight, and a skinny 14-year-old kid called “Michael,” who the world would later call Luol Deng – the best player this country has ever produced.

In that same year of playing with the Topcats, I had my sights set on getting a scholarship to play in the US. I was ready to graduate from Brunel University that year, and I needed to be ready for a faster, more physical game in the US. I knew Jimmy could help me get ready, and most important of all, toughen me up. He would remind me in practice when the tiredness would kick in, “remember, no one wants this more than you,” as a reminder to focus on my goals and never let up.

I ended up going to Clayton State University, a small D2 school in Georgia. After college, I taught high school, worked for a series of nonprofits in Atlanta, moved into communications with agencies in Boston and San Francisco, and later joined Nike in Beaverton, Oregon. Today, I get to work as the Global Communications Director for Jordan Brand, which basically means finding ways to celebrate the culture of basketball and the legacy of greatness that the Jumpman represents. Basketball culture is so much bigger than just the game. It fuses the passion of sport with the energy of the streets and the vibrance of the Black Community, influencing style, music, art, and so much more. Nowhere I’ve seen captures the essence of this the way Brixton Topcats does.

Behind those legendary phrases for which Jimmy became famous are the timeless values of community, self-belief, hard work, and determination. Jimmy Rogers and the Brixton Topcats introduced me to that, and those are the lessons I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.

Fixtures

2020/21 Fixtures to be confirmed.

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