Men's College Basketball

Parents help Hawks create family environment

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 10, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Mar. 10, 2017 11:05 pm

LOUISVILLE

The miles vary, as do the methods of travel.

No matter how they get there or how long it takes, the parents of the Quincy University men's basketball players refuse to be left behind.

It's the kind of constant support that has pushed the Hawks to historic heights.

Quincy (24-6) is one victory shy of matching the 1981-82 team for the second-most victories in program history, a mark it can reach Saturday night when it faces Kentucky Wesleyan in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional at Bellarmine University's Knights Hall.

The school pre-sold about 100 tickets for the tournament, and many others are expected to make the trip.

"Wherever we go, we always have someone behind us," senior point guard Herm Senor II said. "It also reminds you that you have something to play for besides yourself."

The Hawks are playing for their family -- a very extensive family.

The players' parents and other family members fill the entire bleacher section behind the QU bench for home games at Pepsi Arena, often spilling over to other sections in large part because senior forward Evan McGaughey has so much support.

McGaughey, an Illini West product with family living in Quincy and Carthage, said the decision five years ago to go QU wasn't based on the proximity to home, but it has helped him blossom. All he has to do is see the bleachers fill up with his parents, grandparents, cousins and so many others to realize why this was the right choice.

"It's like the cherry on top," McGaughey said.

Their support isn't for him alone. It's for the entire team.

It's why the Senors, who travel from Springfield, Ill., and the Hoovers, who come from Pittsfield, Ill., and the Washingtons, who take the train from Kalamazoo, Mich., meld into the family section.

The Pattersons, the Menys, the Stuckmans and so many others are right there, too.

"They've been a great example," QU coach Marty Bell said. "You have parents from different places, different backgrounds, different things, and they've been able to get along and co-exist and enjoy each other. It's great to see that.

"And it's great to see one basketball team bring so many different people together for a common bond."

That bond exists well beyond the arena.

When the Hawks made a Thanksgiving trip to Puerto Rico, the parents tagged along and turned the trip into a mini-vacation for themselves. They traveled to Evansville, Ind., for the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament last month and have made every trip between.

"They get to be a like a little bunch of rowdy kids," senior guard Von Washington III said. "They love running around when we're on the road, going to different restaurants and bars and hanging out.

"We enjoyed senior weekend, but they enjoyed senior weekend just as much. I'd glad I was able to go somewhere where they were able to be a part of it."

Washington began his career at Western Michigan, playing for former QU coach Steve Hawkins. The fit wasn't right, and his parents didn't make a connection with the rest of the Broncos.

When he transferred, they found a family, too.

"Every mom, every dad talks to the players after a game," Washington said. "It's a whole different atmosphere. We really are just one big family, and it's really got us through some of the low points of the season.

"Everyone is supportive and always ready to go, always looking to help in any way they can. It means the world to us. We love that all of our families can come together like that."

It's the fun-loving nature and true sincerity they share that has bonded them.

"They're probably texting each other more than we're texting each other," Senor said. "They're talking about where they're going to stay at, what they're going to do when they get there. In Puerto Rico, they all went on a getaway trip together.

"They're going to be around each other as much as we're going to be around each other, so they're going to become friends at some point."

So the season's end, whenever and wherever that may be, is going to be emotional for the parents.

The players understand that.

"All the stories we have from games, they have just as many stories from the weekend together," McGaughey said. "It's a real tight-knit family all around."

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