By Kelley Davis
CCC Journalism Program
This year the Camden County College men’s basketball team has learned more on the court than just the game.
Starting the season with 12 players, the team has dwindled to seven, and the challenges they faced have not been restricted to merely its opponents.
Poor grades have forced the roster to shrink. Because CCC emphasized the importance of being a student athlete, it demands players excel in class and on the court.
A team of seven has certainly made it interesting for athletes and coaches.
“It’s been a little rough but those seven players have played their hearts out for us. Our guys never quit. They just keep playing hard and hard,” said Head Coach Louis Abbattista.
Keeping up morale can pose a bit of a challenge, however,
“We talk about who’s there rather than who’s not there and how those seven players can shock the world by just continuing to win” Abbattista said.
While some students might have dropped the ball attempting to balance academics and athletics, the remaining players have picked it up and ran with it.
Sophomore, Deandre Williams, has assumed the role of captain. Stepping up was difficult for Williams, who considers himself calm and reserved. He has undergone a personal transformation, striving to become a better leader, he said.
The dynamic of the game has changed for the team who has found strength through struggle. Basketball is not just about playing and winning, but communication and team building, according to Williams.
“The loss of players has made us way stronger. We became more of a family than a team. It gave us more heart. We have to play harder, more minutes. We have to work together. We are all we have,” Williams said.
“Before every game I tell them, every time, ‘that’s all we have.’ Even when we’re at an away game, in a huddle, I say ‘remember this is all we got – each other,” he added.
The circumstances have caused the team to adapt, rely on one another and challenge themselves physically and mentally. The result is a group of strong-willed, devoted men.
With a record of 17-12, they continued to play hard and maintain a positive mentality into the semi-finals. The team has proven to be seven individuals of perseverance, dedication, and, as Williams put it, “heart.”