Pirate alumni reconnect on, off the court

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Pirate alumni reconnect on, off the court

Play together, Stick together


Photo by Christopher Patterson
Former Pirate athletes pose for a photo in Hartsell Arena after attending the 2017 Basketball Alumni Reunion

By Jay Phillips

Most student athletes dream of chances to earn scholarships and turn professional when they sign their letters of intent to play college sports. What many don’t realize is that the bonds created with their peers, and more specifically their teammates, are one of the truest treasures available to them.

Christopher Patterson, better known around Pensacola State College (PSC) as “Stick,” is as familiar with this as anyone else. Patterson played basketball for PSC from 1990 to 1992. The bonds he formed on the team have stuck with him for the rest of his life.

Those bonds caused former teammates to reconnect and stay in touch via Facebook; and those reconnections turned into much more.

“We all got together one year and had so much fun that we decided to get onto Facebook, find everyone else, and make it happen again,” said Patterson.

Now that they are all in touch, they get together as often as possible for reunions.

These reunions consist of beach trips, bowling competitions, eating out, and usually end with a trip back to Hartsell Arena for a shoot around on the players’ old home court.

Over the years, the reunions have not only grown in number but also in size.

“Even [Former PSC-President] Dr. [Horace “Ed”] Hartsell was able to make it out for the reunion,” Patterson said. Dr. Hartsell retired from PSC in 1998 and was the school’s third president. He saw a lot of success from the basketball teams.

Dr. Hartsell’s continued involvement in the basketball reunions proves how big of an impact PSC’s culture can have on their students, athletes, and administration. The bonds Dr. Hartsell made at PSC are the same types of bonds bringing athletes back together.

Patterson and the other alumni that are involved with the reunions are not only proof that teammates stick together but how family-like the PSC athletics department is.

“With the basketball players, it helps that almost all of them live in the dorms. That allows the different classes to get to know each other and allows the players to spend more time with one another,” said Coach Hamilton.

This is an important aspect, not only for recruiting, but for keeping players comfortable and allowing them to reach their potential in the classroom and in games. This is because PSC’s athletes operate like a family in the sense that they come to each other and their coaches for help.

“All our coaches have good personalities, and they are easy to get along with. Not only are they great employees, but they’re great people,” said Hamilton.

Those characteristics are things that Coach Hamilton and PSC have made a point to fill the athletic department with, because they know everyone there is going to deal with stress. “It’s important to us when we interview people that we see those qualities,” said Hamilton.

This culture and feeling didn’t stop with Patterson’s class, either. Or any other class.

This isn’t something that happened by accident. PSC has established this culture from top to bottom thanks to the concern that the school’s coaches and administration put into not only the student athletes but all students.

Patterson’s reunions are not only a blast for everyone in attendance, but a good look into what the PSC family is like for every athlete that joins it. As the reunions carry on and continue to grow, so does PSC’s alumni-base and family.

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