Farmville comes together for Longwood basketball

Published 1:25 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2016

In what fourth-year Longwood Head Men’s Basketball Coach Jayson Gee called “an effort to marry” his program and the Farmville community, Farmville Mayor David Whitus hosted the Longwood men’s basketball team, Longwood coaches and staff and members of the community at his home last Thursday.

More than 100 people attended the afternoon-long gathering to enjoy a specially prepared Brunswick stew. “About a year ago, Coach Gee and I were having lunch, and we started talking about how we could build community support for Longwood athletics and how we could get the community more involved,” said Whitus, a 1983 Longwood graduate.

“We thought it was important to get people in the community to meet the coaches and the players, and I told him I would try to put together an event. It took us a year to do it, but we were able to invite the community to a stew with the players where they could all have a good time together.”

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Longwood’s basketball team took photos, signed autographs and chatted with their fellow Farmvillians, several of whom are prominent figures in the area.

Among the attendees were Farmville Town Manager Gerry Spates, Prince Edward Commonwealth’s Attorney and Longwood graduate Megan Clark, Longwood Hall of Fame Women’s Golf Coach and three-time NGCA Champion Dr. Barbara Smith, Longwood superfan Roy Nunnally, Longwood Athletics Director Troy Austin, two-time Big South Softball Coach of the Year Kathy Riley and WVHL 92.9 FM on-air personality Richard LeSueur.

“What a fantastic event put together by one of our most prestigious alums, the honorable Mayor David Whitus,” said Gee. “It was great to see the wonderful Farmville community interact with our athletes and coaches, as well as enjoy some great stew.

“The relationships and familiarity we sowed Thursday foster the true partnership we’re growing between this program and the Farmville community. We’re not only trying to increase our attendance at games, but trying to really develop a bond between our players, staff and the town that exists well beyond the court.”

The Rev. Earl Wallace of Pisgah Baptist Church in Rice prepared several hundred bowls of his special Brunswick stew recipe, getting a hand in the preparation from numerous attendees, including Gee. The event also drew contributions from several local businesses and business owners, including Rochette’s Florist, which provided flowers for the event, and Custom Floors owner Jamie Davis, who helped Wallace with the stew.

The event came in the final weeks leading up to Longwood basketball’s 2016-17 season, which kicks off with an exhibition matchup against neighboring Division III program Hampden-Sydney College in Willett Hall on Nov. 5 at 5 p.m. That matchup, which annually draws a sellout crowd to watch the two Farmville-based programs face off, precedes Longwood’s season opener against the University of Maine on Nov. 13, also in Willett Hall.

“Obviously being the mayor of Farmville, we’re thrilled to have Longwood in the center of our town,” Whitus said. “They’re the economic engine that is driving the area, and we want Longwood to do well. If Longwood does well, Farmville does well. Now that Longwood is Division I athletics, we really want people to come out and support them in a very big way.”