Imagine being near the back of an endless line for a major attraction at Walt Disney World. Suddenly you’re moved to the front, and then you’re told you’re going to get the same treatment for the rest of the day. Then you discover that you can even ride past the park’s closing time.
That’s kind of how the parents of Wabash’s 2021-22 basketball team feel right now. They have witnessed their sons win the College’s first-ever North Coast Athletic Conference championship, then have seen the Little Giants notch four straight victories in the NCAA Division III playoffs, all on the road.
“I keep thinking this is a dream I’m going to wake up from, but it’s not a dream,” says Kathy Schreiber, whose son Kellen is a senior forward. “It’s a dream come true!”
The Schreibers and other Wabash basketball parents shared common stories about their basketball-loving sons at a young age. Their boys may have imagined themselves in the national tournament, but there is a bit of unexpected success that comes from 24 consecutive victories and a berth in the DIII national semifinals.
“My wife (Kelly) and I joke that Jack learned to read and write by watching the NCAA Tournament on television,” says Mike Hegwood, whose son Jack is a senior forward. “He completed brackets every year, watched every game he could, and was mesmerized by the unbelievable buzzer beaters and upsets every year.”
Hegwood is one of several members of the team who grew up with tournament aspirations.
“Jack’s goal has always been to win the conference tourney, to have a chance to play in the NCAA tournament, and to make a run,” says Dawn Davidson, who’s son Jack is a senior guard and Wabash’s all-time leading scorer.
One common observation among the parents is how close-knit this team has become, and how well the coaches relate to and care about their sons.
“This has been an incredible ride with so many highs. The refocusing after a few losses early in the season is number one to us, explains Cary Buccilla, whose son Vinny is a freshman guard. “This could have gone sideways in a hurry, but the team rallied together and hasn’t looked back.”
“The dedication that the coaches give to these players is top notch,” says Amy Watson, whose son Tyler is a senior guard on the team. “Coach Brum(ett) and his wife (Steffanie) make sure they have dinner with four of five players each week. It’s a family atmosphere. Coach Sullivan is always available to work out with the players, and the relationships the coaches have formed will be with them for the rest of their lives.”
“Unselfish basketball is exciting, and the chemistry is one of this team’s strengths. It’s palpable. Anyone who spends any amount of time with this group can feel it,” says Meg Comer, whose son Sam is a sophomore forward. “The players love each other, and that makes winning together much more fun.”
The NCAA playoffs have served as a unifying force for an already close-knit group of team parents. While Wabash’s bus carried the basketball team to Atlanta, then to Bloomington, Illinois, moms and dads scrambled to make their own travel arrangements. They got to know each other even better as they ate meals together and stayed in the same hotels on the road.
There’s also been some special parent-son moments throughout the course the winning streak and the post-season playoff run.
“When Ahmoni was younger, he loved that I cheered and was the loudest fan in the stands. As he got older he wanted me to sit quietly, which took a lot of work for me to accomplish,” explains Dayna Jones, junior forward Ahmoni Jones’ mom. “With this winning streak we are on and the nail-biting games, I wasn’t able to keep quiet for long. But my son told me that all his friends, teammates, and classmates in the student section said they love what I bring (noise and talk) to the crowd. Now I have his permission to be loud again.”
One other thing the basketball parents agree on: The lives of their sons will forever benefit from their basketball-playing days at Wabash.
“Choosing Wabash was more than basketball for Brennan. He loves his professors and the experiences in the classroom,” says Amy Beasuir, whose son Brennan is a freshman forward. “This entire experience has added the gifts of basketball, brotherhood, leadership, grit, and Wabash pride.”
For Edreece Redmond, whose son Edreece II is a sophomore guard, the Wabash brotherhood also rings true. “We look at all of the support from alums each and every one of these players are receiving,” he observes. “That’s something they’ll be able to call upon for a lifetime, once the ball stops bouncing.”
John Kerezy ’77 is an associate professor of media & journalism studies at Cuyahoga Community College.