(Photos courtesy of Krysti Wall.)
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (Dec. 20, 2017) - While getting set to participate in a tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla., at the DME Sports Academy, the Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) men's basketball team spent Monday afternoon with children from the Oretha Bell/New Smyrna Beach Boys and Girls Club. The Saints defeated Indiana Wesleyan University 87-80 in their first game of the tournament on Tuesday. They will play College of the Ozarks on Thursday
Head Coach Ryan Wall said, "It was our way to give back to the community and to show our team that there are things in life that are bigger than them."
Wall distributed free OLLU Basketball t-shirts to the delight of the children. The men talked with the youngsters about the importance of staying in school and achieving their dreams.
After some indoor activities with the youngsters, the Saints guided the future basketball stars to the outdoor court. Brandon Joseph (JR/Houston, Texas) and Darion Brown (SR/Alexandria, La.) displayed their ball-handling talents, while PJ Escobar (SR/San Antonio, Texas) gave some tips on how to shoot from beyond the arc. Plus Courtney Julien (JR/Gonzalez, La.) showcased his shooting abilities that have made him among the best in the NAIA. All of the Saints took turns talking to the children and exhibiting the various plays they run during games.
After the trip, Kim Brown, program director for the club, sent Wall and Assistant Coach Michael Poindexter a note, describing her appreciation for the visit: "Our kids love sports and to be outside so today's visit was so perfect. You made their day a little more brighter by visiting and playing with them. Most were excited to show off their shirts and tell of the fun they had with you all. Thank you again for making my kids' day. Good luck in the tournament, no matter the outcome, you are the BEST in the eyes of us at the club."
The Saints will play their last game of the tournament on Thursday at 6 p.m. against College of the Ozarks.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Champions of Character program encourages its member teams to participate in community initiatives as part of its five core values: respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.