Towards the end of the summer, there was an orientation at Maine for new athletes and students. Since I was going to be a new student-athlete, and literally had nothing else to do, I figured it would be smart to get a sense of the school. I flew up there with my mom and dad and we stayed at a hotel while I did the daily activities of meeting people and learning about the area.
I didn’t really know anybody, but found a few people who were from the Philadelphia area. We immediately bonded and I told them I was going to be playing on the basketball team. When I said that, their eyes lit up. I could tell they thought that was so cool.
Later in the day, I met with the new head coach of the basketball team, Dennis Stewart. I was nervous coming into this situation since the coach who recruited me, John Gianinni, took a new coaching job at La Salle University in Philadelphia the year before. Dennis Stewart had been his assistant coach and got promoted.
When we met with Coach Stewart, he talked a lot about the team and the new players but not much about me. I asked him where I fit into the system and he just said, “We have a lot of great players and you’ll have to work for your spot.”
Since I was the new freshman coming in and I agreed with his statement, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Either way, I wanted to trust him, and was more than willing to work for my spot on the team. At the end of our conversation, he told me that I was the first basketball player to ever attend the new student orientation. I thought, How is that possible? It’s an orientation to get a new student acclimated to a new school…why wouldn’t someone go?
Looking back, he seemed to say it in a way that expressed, “I don’t know why you came up here.”
After the orientation, I trained in Medford for the beginning of my freshman year of college. I was excited, and especially excited to get away from South Jersey. Once August came, I started to work out harder but didn’t want to be exhausted for the start of the year since I knew they would put us on an intense training program.
When the weekend of the move-in came, I said bye to my friends and packed up the necessities from my room. I was excited to start a whole new life, in a whole new state, with brand new people.
These were A Few Signs About the Reality of Sports.