Davidson’s men’s basketball team has been engaged with the broader community since 1907, when Davidson basketball began. Yet, the lack of historical records suggests that formal engagement between the players and townspeople was rare. In the 1950’s, for example, the interface between the fans and townspeople was limited to talking to them before and after games. On occasions, players would be flagged down wearing their varsity jackets. “If someone was seen wearing a Letter Sweater, as we called them, they would stop and talk to you” says Hobby Cobb, class of ’56. Cobb explained how the team had no organized or mandatory service during his years. Only recently has the men’s basketball team started to engage in substantial philanthropic activity.
During the 1990’s, Davidson men’s basketball began to engage with students in local schools. Jason Zimmerman, class of ‘94, was civically engaged both as a player and as a Davidson men’s basketball assistant coach. During his brief coaching stint in the late 90’s, Zimmerman led initiatives for players to visit school and read to the kids. Landry Kosmalski, ’00, a player at the time can attest, “it was great…the kids started coming to games and making signs for the player who came and read to them.”
Future basketball players were soon to follow Zimmerman’s lead. Chris Clunie, class of ’06, began volunteering at Ada Jenkins. Upon his graduation, Clunie began the challenge of helping the NBA coordinate their donation programs with different NGO’s. Despite Clunie’s enthusiasm for service, he admits that there was not a lot of time to be active during the basketball seasons. “Most of my service occurred during the summertime when I was back in Maryland” says Clunie.
In the last decade, the connection between the players and local schools has continued. For example, in 2009, players and coaches visited Troutman Middle School. With the rising awareness of major health issues at this time, player spoke on the importance of a healthy lifestyle. After they had spoken, the players had one-on-one time with the kids. Kosmalski, having returned to Davidson as an assistant coach, stressed the importance of interaction with the kids. “When our players interact [the children] really see them as role models” says Landry. Other players such as Will Archambault, class of ’10, took the initiative to start their own civic engagement ventures. Archambault visited Davidson Elementary so frequently that they started calling his visits, “Wednesdays with Will”.
Local churches can also be a gateway into new service projects. Current sophomore John Paul Kuhlman, class of 13, (known to his teammates as JP) is a youth group leader at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Huntersville. During “lifenights” at the church, JP’s duties include leading faith discussions, organizing fun activities and setting a positive example for the kids.
In 2008, men’s basketball saw its most expansive philanthropic work to date. Since his freshman year, Andrew Lovedale ’09, a political science major, had been taking lightly worn shoes and unwanted equipment back to Nigeria during the summers to distribute in his home town of Benin City. On the back of Davidson’s unexpected 2008 run in the NCAA tournament, Lovedale took advantage of the spike in media attention to launch his foundation, Kicks from ‘Cats. Saturday, Feb. 21 2008 marked the first Kicks from ‘Cats event at Belk Arena. The game was a ‘white- out’ event with fans wearing white t-shirts to the game. Supporters were also encouraged to bring shoes to donate. The event was sponsored by Samaritans Feet. Based in Charlotte, the Samaritans Feet was founded by Manny Ohonme, who was given his first pair of shoes by a missionary. He began playing basketball in his new shoes and earned a scholarship to play in the United States. Lovedale shares a similar story.
During summer 0f 2009, Andrew Lovedale and Frank Ben-Eze, ’12, took a trip to Nigeria to distribute the shoes and run basketball clinics. From the experience, Lovedale realized something. “[The] kids need more than just gifts, they needed something more sustainable”. Insert Photo 2
On his return to the United States, Andrew decided to take action. In September, 2010, Andrew incorporated a newly formed non-profit, Access 2 Success. A2S is a registered charity with a mission; to “give kids what we enjoy as Davidson Athletes” says Lovedale. Andrew says his foundation is based on faith, education and basketball. In his words, “If you value these things then you will see the path to success”.
Inspired by Lovedale’s efforts, Bryant Barr ’10, decided to form his own foundation. Bryant’s organized and ran the Buzzkill was founded in 2009 and is an event that raises money towards the non-profit, Nothing but Netz’. The foundation raises money to buy mosquito nets for families in Africa to prevent the spread of malaria. Barr became passionate about the cause after hearing the death toll caused by this totally preventable disease. Buzzkill is a 3 vs 3 basketball tournament for children, held in Belk arena. The inaugural event was held on May, 3 2009. Participating teams raise money prior to the tournament and a silent auction during the event adds to the cause. In 2011, additional fundraisers will include an online auction and banquet dinner.
Over the years, many players have benefited from engagement with the community. Andrew Lovedale spoke about his experience at Davidson Elementary in 2009, “at first you feel like you are doing the kids service but you’re actually find things out about yourself. Just like Moses had his stick and David had his slingshot, you find your talents and what treasures lay within you”. It is for this reason that the trend of civic engagement is sure to continue.
Cobb, Hobby. Personal Interview. 8 Apr. 2011
Kosmalski, Landry. Personal Interview.
Clunie, Chris. Personal Interview. 6 Apr. 2011
Kuhlman, John Paul. Personal Interview. 7 Apr. 2011
Lovedale, Andrew. Personal Interview. 4 Apr. 2011
Molly Duncan. Personal Interview. 4 Apr. 2011
Author: Ben Allison
Date: 21 April 2011
Cite as: Allison, Ben. “Men’s Basketball and Service,” Davidson Encyclopedia, 21 April 2011 <http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/uncategorized/mens-basketball-and-service/>