Was a quote that read across t-shirts that we wore as members of the Bowie State Men’s Basketball Team. It was an indication of the consecutive seasons our program had ranked #1 in the Northern Division of the highly competitive D2 CIAA Conference. In winning programs, playing at a HIGH LEVEL consistently, is a challenge night in and night out. The added challenge, is that teams don’t fear you. In fact, when they get the opportunity, they are going give your their BEST SHOT; from jumpball until the final horn. The way It should be. What I learned from grinding with my brothers, during the 2013 season, was that the Grind was a prerequisite, but to be a Champion, took PERSEVERANCE and FAITH.

Coming off of a 22-6 record in 2011-12 and falling short of our goals, we were excited to hit the next year harder! Fast forward to the 2012-13 season, With 3 games left in the regular season, our team record was 9-13, and It appeared that our goals were out of reach. Winning the North was out of reach, and we had been struggling much of the season with chemistry and consistency. The struggles led to many nights of our staff communicating into late hours, accessing film, and trying to find the right spark to get us going. We never stopped working, or believing. I can remember having daily conversations with our Hall of Fame Head Coach Darrell Brooks about our chances to “Win It All.” As a unit, we needed to hit a stride going into playoffs.

BOOM!!!!! Our guys start rolling!  Our incredible staff would put together flawless game plans. Everyone was needed. We had players step up in crucial moments, and we finished our regular season on a 3 Game winning streak. Just what we needed heading into to the CIAA Conference Tournament held at the NBA Charlotte Bobcats arena.

So now we are a HOT team coming into Charlotte, with a low seed in the tournament. Meaning, we would not get a bye game, we would have to “Play-In” and ultimately, a CIAA Championship would mean 4 STRAIGHT WINS in 4 NIGHTS, something we hadn’t done all season.

We walked into the arena for Game 1, our Head Coach, calm, cool and collected, led us to the 1st win. We looked like anything but underdogs. Next game is a really tough Lincoln(PA) University team, whom had swept us during the regular season; we edged them out for a gritty quarterfinal WIN.   

We had been in many tough moments where we in the end we didn’t prevail. Now we are facing a very tough Winston Salem State team and we perform; scoring 46 points in the 2nd half en route to a WIN that now puts in the CIAA Championship. Through this adversity we have built an immense amount of character. Our group pushing through the tough moments, prepared us for this moment. ESPNU and fans watching, witnessed 2 of the BEST SCORERS in CIAA HISTORY, Mark Thomas (Livingstone-34 points) and Bowie State’s Byron Westmoreland (Livingstone-38 points) led us to become the 2013 CIAA CHAMPIONS. Our team played with consistency and great chemistry. One of the BEST performances I’ve ever witnessed.
I would say, that a championship season was the hardest I’ve worked in my coaching career. Late night film, 20 hour days, scouting reports, recruiting, is the WORK part of it, and the journey, it’s too much fun!!! It changed me. It taught me something important, every moment of every day. Not just basketball, beyond that. Growth, maturing, as great men do. The time spent and the bonds formed with this unique crew of extraordinary young men is something cemented in a book of memories with a golden glare. 💫

These guys showed me that no matter what is going on, Faith and Perseverance, will get through! We will come out of it Champions when the dust settles.