Bo Harris has played basketball all over the world.
But for the Winchester native, who played in semi-professional leagues in Canada and Europe, there is nothing quite like playing in your hometown.
“Everybody knows your moves,” he said. “Everybody knows your tendencies. It’s very competitive. Even though I played at different levels, even guys who don’t really play basketball anymore can give me problems because they know who I am and I’ve been the same person since I was younger.”
Well, he’s not exactly the same. While the younger Harris had his focus on improving as a basketball player, now his focus is on improving his community.
“If a lot of people get together and we pursue one common goal, that can make the community better,” he said. “That’s going to help everyone in the long run.”
Harris works to rally this group effort through something he knows very well — basketball.
Harris runs a local basketball camp and a Jam Fest 5-on-5 tournament at Harmon Field each summer. This year, he started the first year of his basketball summer league — one focused on allowing high school athletes and older players to compete together on the same court, in the same league.
“My goal is to bridge the gap,” Harris said. “I put the league together so guys who are my age, guys who are 30, can play with guys who are 15 or 23.”
But the camps, leagues and tournaments are also a tool to bring people together with the hope that will pay dividends beyond basketball.
“It’s exciting for me and the thing I want to do moving forward is to keep working with the youth and keep them involved in, not just basketball, but any activity they want to participate in,” he said. “I want them to be excited about things, give them options.”
The career trajectory for Harris took him to places like Toronto, Latvia, Estonia and Singapore. The traveling let him see the opportunities young people have in places other than Winchester.
“Sometimes options are limited,” he said. “Being in Toronto and other cities, I saw the options they had and the things kids were able to do. I want to give the kids here those chances so maybe they can be inspired and pursue those things.”
Singapore was where Harris decided he would focus on working with children.
“We spent a lot of time with the youth there,” Harris said. “That’s what put my mindset that, when I got back to Winchester, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to give back to the community and work with the youth in the community. By using basketball, something I know, to keep them from maybe interacting with stuff they don’t need to.”
Even with all that traveling, Harris never doubted he would come back to the place he calls home.
“This is my home,” Harris said. “My friends and family are here. It’s just home. I feel I can go anywhere, and if I need anything someone will be