West Windsor, N.J. – The Mercer County Community College men’s basketball team combined the sport they love with some life lessons that will serve them in the future. The team headed for Washington, D.C., December 20-21 for a trip that has become an annual tradition under Head Coach Levy, now in his sixth season.
According to Levy, the tone for the trip was set as the bus headed south with the showing of the movie "42,” a biography of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. “I have always emphasized that the guys need to have ‘the courage not to fight’ a la Robinson. Interestingly, when that line came up in the movie, one of the players said, ‘That’s what you always say, Coach.’” Levy notes that the purpose of the trip is provide a chance for team members to share experiences off the court, to visit the nation’s capital, and to get a perspective from beyond the college and the county.
The Vikings’ first stop was the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, which is under construction in Southeast Washington. Levy’s friend, Tal Alter, is the academy’s executive director and took the team on a tour of the site. “He explained the program’s purpose, which is to provide inner city youth with training in baseball, along with academic instruction and support. It’s the kind of program that can change lives,” Levy said.
From there, the Vikings went to the Verizon Center, where they got an opportunity to play on the Washington Wizards’ practice court. They also spoke to several Wizards players, along with Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld and Vice President of Basketball Administration Tommy Sheppard. (In addition to Levy, Sheppard has close ties to retired MCCC basketball coach Howie Landa, in whose honor the Mercer basketball court is named.)