Opinion — It’s basketball time

Published 2:35 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

It’s that exciting season when our national attention turns to basketball. Soon, we’ll be picking our brackets and rooting for our favorites in the NCAA Division 1 men’s and women’s basketball tournament, which is also known as March Madness.

To help build anticipation, I’d like to introduce you to the basketball program at Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC). As an independent, SVCC plays against national postgraduate teams from prep schools, JV teams from four-year colleges and other community college teams. Through this connection, student athletes get a chance to play against highly skilled opponents, even some already committed to Division 1 teams.

Basketball at SVCC began under the administration of Dr. John Cavan, former SVCC President. Dr. Cavan had firsthand experience with the kind of discipline required to focus and maintain necessary grades. He also learned about the benefits of cooperative teamwork and being engaged within the college community. He cherished the life-long friendships formed during his time as an athlete. Dr. Cavan wanted SVCC students to have those same opportunities.

Over the years, the SVCC’s basketball program has earned division, state, and regional and national titles. Former players have amassed a wide variety of achievements. Jeff Pillow set the SVCC’s rebounding record (27) before transferring to the University of Virginia. He is now a professional writer. Craig McCargo, led SVCC to a 27-5 record and averaged a program best of 24.7 points per game. He transferred to King University in Tennessee, a Division 2 school, where he led in field goal percentage in his senior year. The Faulcon twins, Desmond and Demond, attended SVCC for a year before they transferred to other schools. The brothers now travel around the country performing for audiences as the “Highest Jumping Twins in the World.” Two other former student athletes continue to pass on what they learned by serving as high school coaches.

This year’s team, which boasts a strong winning record, includes 12 talented young men working under the leadership of Head Coach Dennis Smith (serving in his 18th season) and Assistant Coach Vincent Brown (serving in his 13th season). Coach Smith says, “There is a popular saying that teamwork makes the dream work, and I could not agree more. Teamwork is at the core of everything we do at SVCC, and it is also at the core of the success of our basketball team.”

For some, basketball leads to opportunities at senior institutions. For others, it offers a way to stay connected to a game they love. Coach Smith, who serves as an adviser, mentor and friend to the athletes helps the players celebrate personal successes at all levels. He notes, “Some players will go on to continue their careers at other colleges or universities; others will not. Basketball is a tool for them all. It helps people define and reach dreams.”

On the court and in the classroom, it’s important for students to learn about themselves, discover their talents and improve their skills. Coaches and instructors guide them as they develop confidence and assess personal strengths and weaknesses. In the game and in life, we all need teammates to help us reach our goals.

For more information about SVCC basketball and a schedule of upcoming games, visit southside.edu/mens-basketball. Home games are played at Brunswick High School in Lawrenceville. Tip off time is 2 p.m. Please come and cheer for our fabulous SVCC Panthers.

Panther Pride “Catch it”!

DR. QUENTIN R. JOHNSON is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans 10 counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@ southside.edu.