Written by Austin Anderson. Media by Morgan Johnson.
For Homecoming 2013, Greenville welcomed a successful bunch of alumni athletes back on campus for an annual sports tradition: the alumni games. Some of this year’s participants are currently professional athletes in different parts of the world, and other participants simply seek the rush of their beloved sport. The games serve as a chance for present and former Greenville athletes to build community. Primarily, the games are intended to remember past Panther athletes, and to allow alumni students to re-live the exhilaration of competition, and the atmosphere of collegiate athletics.
Some sports on campus that hosted alumni games were basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, and football. All the sports involved require a specific amount of skill, and dedication to master. Many alumni athletes have gained many years of age since their youthful prime, but in most cases, the specific skills that sports require stay with the retired athletes. However, some sports simply aren’t friendly to the aging body.
The alumni football game is an example of a physically unkind contest for some former Greenville students. With aging joints, muscles, and stamina, the game of football simply doesn’t get easier for the body as years pass. However, the alumni football team was able to assemble enough former talent to take on the young guns of Greenville’s JV football team. The emphasis of alumni games has never been the score, and although the alumni team was able to top the panthers by a very small deficit, the importance of the game came with the interaction between the two teams. In fact, the score was such a small area of emphasis that it wasn’t even displayed for the first half of the game. The Greenville Junior varsity had the honor of playing against great talent like, Dominic Kegel. Kegel has an impressive résumé as a quarterback on the football field. He was an NCCAA pre-season all-American (2008), ranked #25 in the NCAA for all-purpose yards (2007), and was selected as first team all-conference (2006 and 2007). Along with extremely impressive statistics at Greenville, Kegel was drafted by the Besel Gladiators in Switzerland in 2009, and has been a professional football player in Europe ever since. Kegel wasn’t the only professional among the alumni athletes, the basketball team also contended against two professionals.
LaPhonso Ellis Jr., a former Panther for Greenville basketball, was a three time all-conference selection and is the third all-time scorer at the college. After graduating in 2010, he played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) for the Saint Louis Pioneers. Then, Ellis was selected by the Chicago Muscle in the Premier Basketball League (PBL), and like Kegel, Ellis has spent some time playing in Europe. LaPhonso returned to his roots on homecoming weekend, and got to dazzle the fans at H.J. Long gymnasium with his uncanny ability to score from anywhere on the court.
Another amazing talent that Greenville welcomed to the basketball court was Obinna Agomo. Like Ellis, Agomo has played for the Chicago Muscle in the PBL, but Agomo is currently pursuing a professional career in the Canadian Basketball League. In 2012, Agomo was the 24th pick by the London Lightening of the NBL Canada. Agomo’s amazing leaping ability was unparalleled in the alumni game, and his dunks created a perfect mixture of eloquence and power. Despite the amazing talent of the alumni team, the Greenville varsity was able to steal a victory from the savvy veterans. The score teetered back and forth until the 2014 Panther’s squad was able to seal the deal by eight points.
Agomo, Ellis, and Kegel are building athletic legacies for themselves and for Greenville College. It’s very reassuring to see so much talent emerging from the small town atmosphere of Greenville College. Legacies are made on the field, in the community, or in the job field. The annual alumni game is instilled to remember legends, and as a reminder that the accomplishments and recognition that collegiate sports bring don’t have to stop after college.