Washington U. Senior Max Needle Takes Life-Changing Trip to Kenya
By Chris Mitchell
Sports Information Director
Senior captain Max Needle, Ridgewood, N.J. (Ridgewood HS) of the Washington University in St. Louis men’s basketball team took a life-changing basketball missionary trip to Kenya last month. The trip was sponsored by USA Basketball and the NCAA.
Needle and six other NCAA Division III basketball players from colleges and universities all over the country teamed with Travelbond, a non-profit organization started by Brian Murphy, assistant men's basketball coach at Franklin & Marshall College.
The mission of the organization is to "create, provide, and sustain opportunities and good health for the women and children of poverty or disaster areas both locally and globally.” Needle and his teammates conducted basketball/life skills camps for less fortunate children in several villages throughout Kenya.
"This trip forever changed my perspective on life and has inspired me to continue to help the less fortunate around the world,” Needle said.
"It gave me such satisfaction to be able to help those kids realize their potential and give them the slightest bit of hope,” he added. “The children always had smiles on their faces and had greater attention spans than almost all the children I've ever seen or coached in America."
The team also volunteered at multiple orphanages and child development centers, and played four games against top Kenyan competition – winning all four contests. They also visited President Obama’s grandmother and even found time to go on a safari on Lake Nakuru, where they witnessed some extraordinary wildlife.
"The poverty in Kenya is unimaginable; the infrastructure is non-existent and the people are constantly fighting for their next meal and a place to sleep,” Needle said.
A 6-foot-1 guard for Washington University, Needle has seen action in 42 career games for Washington U., making five starts. He is a two-time UAA-All Academic honoree and majors in finance and entrepreneurship.