Former Clinton County resident coaching in France
By Gary Huffenberger
LYON, FRANCE — Clinton County Sports Hall of Famer Tim Wilson has played or coached basketball in France for some 35 years, and after the recent Paris attacks, Wilmington High School classmates and others wondered if he was affected.
He is on Facebook and posted the message he’s OK. He lives about two hours by fast train from Paris, but his son Raphaël is playing professional basketball in Paris this year and lives 20 minutes outside the capital city.
For the Wilsons, the closest call was that Raphaël’s girlfriend works near where one of the attacks occurred, but she was not at work at the time.
“Everybody now is in a state of paranoia,” Tim Wilson said in a phone interview. In addition to coaching basketball, Wilson works in a furniture store in Lyon and the number of customers is way down since the attacks, he said.
As evidence people were on edge in the days after the attacks, Wilson related he heard that a light bulb had popped in a restaurant and everybody dropped to the floor.
Wilson called the attack in the concert venue “a massacre.”
He said the French are worried “about all the refugees coming in.” According to him, most refugees are men in the age range of 18 to 35.
The French also are concerned about who the next U.S. president might be, Wilson said. A president who would take action first and only later think about the consequences is the cause for their concern, he said.
For his part, Wilson is not particularly concerned about a terrorist strike taking place at basketball games he’s coaching.
“We don’t have that type of draw [attendance],” said Wilson, 60, whose team was in first place at the time of the interview. French organized basketball has multiple divisions.
French basketball is getting a lot better, according to Wilson, pointing to nine or 10 NBA players who played in France.
He said he can read, write and speak in the French language. In fact, sometimes he has trouble reverting to speaking in his native tongue of English, recalling a basketball camp at Geneva, Switzerland where he was supposed to speak entirely in English.
With more frequent contact home using Skype, he said he’s doing better on English.
It’s been four years since Wilson was back in Wilmington.
Next summer, though, he may return for a family reunion.
“There are six of us,” Wilson said. “We’re a pretty tight-knit family.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.