Right before Hoops Classic started this year, I caught up with James The, “Dean The” as he’s called around campus, vice president of student services and the coordinator of Hoops Classic. As we talked about Hoops Classic, Dean The shared what he feels are the best things that happen because of Hoops Classic. They are . . .
Making “Best” Memories
Recently, at a SWAU soccer game held in Dallas at a Christian college, a student from the opposing team’s school came up to Dean The. She asked him, “Hey, do you remember me?” Dean The politely and honestly admitted that he didn’t. “I recognize you from Hoops Classic! Those were my best high school memories!” the girl exclaimed and went on to share that she is still friends with SWAU students she met at the tournament when she played, which brings up the next best thing . . .
Making Lifelong Friends
He says that “the ways people can make connections” keeps Hoops going for Dean The. “These kids who are rivals in high school become really good friends in college from the connections they made at Hoops Classic,” is how he has seen it play out over the years.
Watching Adventist Talent
“It’s great to watch Adventist talent,” Dean The brings up, “and then I just kind of follow students and get to say, ‘hey, I wish you the best, and you know Southwestern would love to have you; we’d love to see you continue playing here . . . but if not here, I hope you’ll continue playing for another Adventist university.’” Hoops Classic is a great recruitment event, a chance for students to get a taste of what it would be like to be a student at SWAU, but it’s more than that . . .
Showcasing SWAU’s Gracious Students
In Dean The’s eyes, SWAU students “are the most gracious students of any campus I’ve seen,” he believes. “We want people to say, ‘Hey, this is a friendly campus. Wow, the students care, and the people look out for each other at SWAU.’ And what better way to show our hospitality than to invite 500 high school students on campus and let them put our hospitality to the test!”
Seeing SWAU Young Alums
Every year some young SWAU alums come to Hoops Classic who do not make it back for Homecoming weekend. After running into them year after year, Dean The says, “It’s great to see young alums back on campus at Hoops Classic in the ways they’re serving their community—as coaches, teachers, school sponsors, pastors—even now as parents of kids playing in the tournament, and to hear them say, ‘I went to school here!’”
Being at the Games on Saturday Night
Whether or not you have attended Hoops Classic, you can either remember or imagine what Dean The means when he describes the atmosphere in the gym as “electrifying” on Saturday night during championship series games. He says, “It’s such a good place to have camaraderie. Everyone is cheering; it is just really hyped!”
Working Together as a Team
Dean The points out that it takes all areas of SWAU to make Hoops Classic happen, “The athletic department, the men’s and women’s residence halls, the dining services program, campus safety, it takes everyone involved in student services, enrollment, student life and development, the music department . . .” Dean The stops, then says, “It’s a whole team effort.”
That is a great pun, Dean The!
Hoops Classic’s Most Famous Alumna
For fun, Dean The pointed out that Andrea Hoover, who once won two Hoops Classic championships with her Spring Valley Academy team, went on to be the 31st pick overall for the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2015 WNBA draft! So, who will be the next famous Hoops Alumni?
Be a part of Southwestern Adventist University’s 28th Annual Hoops Classic! Mark your calendar for January 24-27, 2024, and reserve your school’s spot in the competition. Contact Tina Bottsford, coordinator of guest relations and communication, at 817-202-6408 or by email at email@example.com. See you at Hoops Classic next year!