Immediate Release –Sports
Men’s Basketball visits Nations Capital
November 7, 2015
Dayton, Ohio – While most everyone was out trick or treating, the members of the Sinclair Men’s Basketball team played in two scrimmages, visited several national monuments, toured the Capitol and White House and even found time to visit with a number of Wounded Warriors returning from overseas at Walter Reed Hospital.
Every three years the Men’s Basketball teams travels to Washington, DC for a hands on view of our Nation’s Capital. This was the fifth team Coach Price has taken to DC and each year the experience continues to grow.
Always centered around either a scrimmage or regular season game, this year the team doubled up with scrimmage dates at the beginning and end. West Liberty University in West Virginia was first up on Thursday and Sinclair played well in the loss to a very experienced four year institution. The Hilltoppers finished last season 28-4 and enters the 2015-16 campaign as the Pre-Season #3 for NCAA Division II. They finished #2 in the nation last season averaging 100.5 points per game. A wealth of experience, West Lib has a rich tradition of post season play as they have played in 4 of the last five NCAA Division II Final Fours.
The DC itinerary got underway with a very inspiring visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The team spent the morning in the Amputee Clinic visiting with injured Service Members rehabilitating and working with new prosthetics. Amputee Physical and Occupational Therapy at Walter Reed is setting world-class standards for helping our Service Personnel get back to an independent life style and for many, a return to active duty. The Amputee Clinic uses a Sports Medicine model with much of the same equipment found in most athletic training facilities. Some of the Men’s Basketball team even accepted several challenges from the rehabilitating service members to match them in their fitness drills. Both groups felt comfortable as they were all around the same age as they talked basketball and football. The unexpected message came from the recovering service personnel, they were working hard not to make their life better but to find a way to get back to their units and join their “brothers”. You can hear it and even see it on a t-shirt, but it’s nothing like experiencing it first hand.
The morning quickly turned into afternoon as the team left Walter Reed and headed down to the Capitol. It was Speaker John Boehner’s last day and the Representative from the Ohio 8th District had organized several tours for the team from Ohio. Mr. Boehner was not available when the team arrived but two members of his staff was able to give the team a personal tour of the Capitol. During the Capitol tour, one of the stops was the Speakers office in the Capitol. Just the day before, the House of Representatives had voted Paul Ryan (Rep from Wisconsin) in as the new Speaker of the House. So when the team made it to the Speakers Office in the Capitol, the name had already been changed and the transition was underway. They were still able to get the team in but had very limited access. The special surprise came when it was time to enter the gallery to view the House of Representative Chambers. The team was not going to the upstairs gallery where guest are permitted to view the chamber, they was granted special permission to enter the chamber just as the members enter and walk onto the floor. A member of the Capitol Police gave the team about a 20 minute lesson on the room and the seats they were now sitting in, and even included the mechanism on how each Representative votes. Before the team exited, almost every member of the team tried to commit to memory what seat they were in so they could point to it during the next State of the Union Address.
The day was still not over and they took the short walk across the street to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court was in session and the team was able to enter the courtroom for a 30 minute lecture from a trained Docent.
At the end of a long day, it was time for basketball practice. American University allowed the team to use Bender Arena, home to the Men’s & Women’s Basketball team of the American University Eagles. Even though the Pride had already played a scrimmage less than 24 hours before and had spent most of the day walking around DC, it was time to continue to work on basketball.
Day three of the trip came extremely early as the Men’s Basketball team had a White House tour scheduled for 7:30am. Always a special part of the trip, this is one of the hardest tickets in town. Again thanks to Speaker Boehner and his staff, we were once again blessed with permission to enter and tour the White House. The team entered through the East Wing and was able to tour the East Colonnade, Garden Room, Vermeil Room, China Room and Library before moving up to the State Floor. On the State Floor they spent time in the East, Green, Blue, Red and State Dining Rooms before departing out the Main Entrance.
Just a short bus ride over the Arlington Memorial Bridge, the team entered the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. Another walking tour lead the team to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Early on Saturday morning and just after leaving the White House, members of the Men’s Basketball team found themselves viewing one of the most powerful rituals in American – Changing of the Guard. As the sentinel marches 21 steps in front of the Tomb then turns for 21 seconds before marching 21 steps to the other side, everyone remains silent. The Changing of the Guard is especially gripping as the Relief Commander conducts a detailed white-gloved inspections of both sentinels, members of the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Regiment traditionally known as “The Old Guard”. After viewing the Changing of the Guard, the team paid their respects at several other grave sites that included: President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Senator Edward Kennedy and Associate Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Back across the Memorial Bridge the team visited the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool. By this time the team was asking how many step were in Washington and how can someone not be in shape living in the Nation’s Capital. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial near the top is a marker in stone for a speech that is considered one of the most defining moments in the American Civil Rights Movement. That marker is where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech to over 250,000 civil rights supporters on August 28, 1963. Inside the team found a larger the life statue of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Not only did the team encounter the statue of President Lincoln sitting in contemplation, they were also able to view his Gettysburg Address.
The day ended as it did the day before, with basketball practice. This time the team had a little bit more sense of urgency as they would scrimmage the U.S. Naval Academy Developmental team in Annapolis, MD in less than 24 hours. Georgetown University would serve as host for the Pride and they would be granted time in historic McDonough Arena. Home of the Big East powerhouse Georgetown Hoyas, McDonough served as Georgetown’s home court for 30 seasons and started the era of Big East Basketball. It was a huge privilege to have an opportunity to practice at such a historical arena.
The final day of the east coast trip was here and the team was ready to take on the U.S. Naval Academy Developmental team in Alumni Hall in Annapolis, MD. The Navy Men’s Basketball program has taken off under 5th year Head Coach Ed DeChellis and this scrimmage would be like no other. Normally when Sinclair plays a Division I Junior Varsity teams, they match up against mostly walk-ons trying to impress the coaching staff to earn a Varsity spot. Usually serving as Head Coach for the JV team, will be a Varsity Assistant and sometimes a student manager. This day would be completely different. Coach DeChellis would be coaching the Developmental team with his entire coaching staff on the bench and these were young Navy players trying to make the Varsity team, and they were being coached as such. They may not have a Varsity uniform yet and they have to earn their way through the Developmental program, but they are on their way. Played just as an NCAA Division-I game would be played that included media times outs, the Pride had to make quick adjustments. Down early, Sinclair went on to pull out a double digit victory to start the 10 hours trip home. Once again, our guys encountered high class individuals as after the scrimmage members of the Navy team spoke with our guys. You can tell why Coach DeChellis is so successful and why Navy is on the rise, we were very lucky to have spent the day at the Academy.
Veterans Day is just around the corner and this trip gave new understand to the holiday most citizens take for granted. The word Freedom has a price and the Sinclair Men’s Basketball team had three days in Washington as a living classroom. From Walter Reed Hospital, Secret Service Agents, Elected Officials, Honored Military Personnel buried at Arlington and our next generation Military Officers at the Naval Academy; I think we now have a better understanding of what it takes to protect our freedoms.
Every three years we make the trip to Washington to help our student-athletes grow. Sinclair is about the three C’s: Classroom, Community Service and Competition. I believe we were able to meet these benchmarks. We were not in a traditional classroom but what they encountered should help sculpt their minds and spending time at Walter Reed was a great Community Service venture for both parties. And of course, to scrimmage against a Top 5 NCAA Division II team and NCAA Division I program was valuable. Both programs are extremely well coached and the top of line when it comes to class.