W-B basketball players ‘steal cookies’ and give back

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First Posted: 1/27/2014

On the night of Sunday, Jan. 18, local sports fans and players gathered in the lobby of the Quality Inn & Suites Conference Center in Wilkes-Barre. Keeping a careful eye on the oversized flat screen televisions reeling ESPN sports highlights, they mingled while grinning from ear to ear, laughing over the sound of throbbing music coming from the conference room nearby. It was clear they were celebrating.

Also Known As (AKA) Style is an up and coming sports apparel clothing line encouraging originality and imagination for sports fanatics of all ages, founded by the highly ambitious and organized Wilkes-Barre native and avid basketball lover Isiah Walker.

The conference room was filled with people supporting the kickoff fashion show of the new line. Behind the scenes with a 1,000 kilowatt smile on his face, Walker tied up loose ends, the designer gently directing a handful of models ready to showcase his athletic designs.

A variety of t-shirts and tank tops with clever and original sports related sayings, such as “King of the Court,” “Queen of the Court,” and “I Steal Cookies,” were front and center as the room roared with applause.

“AKA isn’t just about basketball,” Walker said after the show. “It’s about every sport and every age.”

The designer explained “stealing cookies” as his own personal reference to making a steal on the basketball court.

“It’s my lingo; everyone has their own” he said. “It’s where imagination meets creation in sports.”

At 32 years old, Walker is no stranger to the world of sports, leadership, business, or headlines. The former high school basketball stand-out played hard for G.A.R. High School, Keystone College, and Marywood University.

In 2000, Walker and five friends organized a nonprofit basketball conditioning organization called The Firm Athletic Club based in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. With the initial intent of keeping young players busy during the basketball offseason, The Firm grew with tremendous success, allowing Walker to set up college showcases for his athletes, leading to a handful of players receiving full scholarships.

After graduating college, Walker went on to coach junior varsity women’s basketball at Crestwood High School. After a recent puzzling and unfortunate layoff, Walker was determined to get back into shape and hit the courts again.

With his Goliath-like spirit, Walker soon organized a traveling semi-pro basketball team called the Diamond City Playaz. The team, coached by his father Howard Walker, is made up of former high school players, including Chris Derojas, Chris Shovlin, Owen Wignot, and Stephan Draper. They played and won for the first time on Jan. 12 and are scheduled to play until Feb. 29.

In addition to juggling basketball practice; fashion designing; advertising; event planning, such as appearing in the Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick’s Day Parade; fundraising; and working to find sponsors for team uniforms and travel expenses, this ambitious and humble entrepreneur and his staff, comprised of lifelong friends, are more concerned with giving back to the community than personal profit.

Jumping at any opportunity to lend a helping hand, Walker and his associates recently initiated a collection of canned goods to donate to the St. Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen and began a fundraiser to benefit a local family who had lost members.

“We grew up in Wilkes-Barre, and it’s no secret that our community has gone downhill,” Walker explained. “We’re just a bunch of motivated and well-educated people trying to be productive, set a positive example, and take our community back.”