Bryan College Basketball

Rhea County High School student Noah Reed, left, and Bryan College basketball’s Michael Johnson are pictured above during Thursday’s season preview event at Summer’s Gymnasium in Dayton.

Bryan College men’s basketball team gives back to the community

On Thursday, Oct. 3, Bryan College’s men and women’s basketball teams hosted a season preview event at Summers Gymnasium allowing the community to check out the teams during an intersquad scrimmage.

Rhea County High School’s special needs students served as the honorary guests for the event and enjoyed the festivities while being welcomed to join in on the action on the court themselves.

RCHS and Bryan’s men’s hoops team have partnered together to allow for the Lions to visit Evensville throughout the week and spend quality time with the students for range of activities from tutoring, escorting students to the Career and Technical Education classes, assisting with basic life skills and simply being their friend.

Bryan College Education Specialist Jennifer Travis helped spark the connection between the basketball program and RCHS and said it has truly become a beautiful partnership between the two schools.  

Each year the college hosts Luke 14: Fun Day on the Hill which provides a wonderful opportunity for Bryan Colleges students and staff to live out Bryan’s mission of educating students to become servants of Christ to make a difference in today’s world.

“We already have Luke 14 day each year but we talked to the high school about starting a PALS (Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies) type program with the special education department students at RCHS. The basketball team has really gotten involved this year because they have committed to 125 hours of community service as a team, so they were looking for a program to get involved with,” Travis said. So when I mentioned it to Coach (Don) Rekoske, he was very excited about the opportunity,” she added.

Currently, members of the team visit the high school for roughly 10-12 hours per week and they volunteer in the special education classrooms. Travis said the goal, as the college, is to just build a strong, positive relationship with the students at the high school. Bryan also plans to invite the students back to campus for other events such as concerts and plays in the spring.

“We are just trying to connect our campus with their campus and eventually be able to include the county middle school special needs students as well,” Travis said.

While the special needs students are enjoying their new friends and weekly meetings, it has been mutually beneficial for Bryan’s basketball team.

“If we can go up there and make their day simply by spending time with them, that is something we’re always willing to do,” Bryan’s Michael Johnson said. Johnson visits Evensville every Tuesday to spend at least an hour with the students.

“We’re able to help them with their work and really just talk to them and be their friend. This has been a great experience for all of us and it has made me more humble and given me a better perspective on life,” he said. “God has blessed us all with many gifts and abilities but everyone is different. So when we go up there, its just a time to be humble and show love.”

Coach Rekoske echoed those statements and is pleased with how his team has stepped up and given back to the community through its commitment to 125 hours of service this year.

“It has been a privilege to serve these terrific kids. Our goal is to become friends with as many of these kids as we can. We are trying to get 12-20 players out there every week and it is something we want to be able to do all year long,” Bryan men’s head basketball coach Don Rekoske said.