Playing Together Couple Takes Shot At Love In Basketball Fundraiser 2009: Scotch Plains

Playing together Couple takes shot at love in basketball fundraiser

SCOTCH PLAINS &mdashAbout 15 years have passed, but Jack Ryan still perfectly recalls an incident that made him fall even deeper in love with
Jennifer DiMaggio &mdash who a decade later would become his wife. “When we first met, we played 3-on-3 games in Manhattan and Brooklyn all the time, and she was better than half my friends,” said Jack, who threw himself headlong into basketball while growing up in New York City before turning his passion into a unique career. “One time, up by Second Avenue and 68th Street (in Manhattan), a guy that I knew said, “Dude, you’re not gonna let the girl play, are you’ I just said, “Don’t worry about it.”‘ “He wound up covering her, and she embarrassed him. She manhandled him so bad that after we beat them, he just went over … got his backpack and left the park without saying goodbye to anybody,” he recalled. “I’ve never seen him since.” A match made in heaven, indeed. The Scotch Plains couple &mdash he a professional entertainer who performs basketball-themed wizardry at halftime shows around the country, she a former Plainfield High School and Pace University hoops star, and current teacher &mdash faced off in front of more than 1,000 people on Wednesday, Feb. 11, for a fundraising game at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. Jack was appearing with the Harlem Wizards, the showboating travel team similar to the more famous Globetrotters Jennifer was playing with faculty at township’s Park Middle School, to which the game’s proceeds went. Susan Taylor, the event coordinator who serves on the Park School PTA, said more than 600 advance tickets for the event were sold, plus hundreds more at the door. The school has hosted a fundraising game against the Wizards once every two years for the past six years, she said, with the approximately $5,000 raised in 2007 expected to be matched or exceeded this time. Jack is an alumnus of the Wizards, with whom he played regularly for a number of years starting in the mid-1990s before creating his “Hoop Wizard” halftime routine, a blend of eye-popping tricks that includes his specialty of keeping nine basketballs spinning at once: one on his head, one on each hand, and six on a special apparatus he designed that sits over his legs while in a sitting position during performances.
Advertising on his own Web site, , Ryan appears at small gatherings such as birthday parties, summer clinics and charity events, but also during halftimes of college and NBA games before thousands of spectators. He performed his signature move at halftime of Wednesday’s game, drawing a raucous ovation from the crowd.

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