Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Leadership lived: Men’s basketball player learns lessons on and off the court

As Vince Walker puts it, first and foremost “I love basketball!” The University of Illinois Springfield junior communication major is helping lead the UIS Prairie Stars men’s basketball team during a successful start to the 2017-18 season.

On campus, Walker is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), the University Bible Fellowship (UBF) and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Walker and a group of men’s basketball players recently visited HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital in Springfield where they handed out toys and visited with kids who spent time in the hospital during the holidays.

“I hope that our presence there at least gave them kind of a distraction and took their mind off of the current situation,” said Walker. “As student-athletes here at UIS, we’re really fortunate, so it’s good to give back.”

Last summer, Walker also worked with children from the Springfield-area as an instructor for a UIS Basketball Summer Camp. He and other team members taught boys and girls entering 3rd through 8th grades the fundamentals of the game.

“They had a lot of enthusiasm and will to learn the game from guys like us who were kind of in their shoes and made it to the college level, so it was really fun,” he said.

As an upperclassman on the UIS men’s basketball team, Walker says he’s learned to lead by example and has helped to guide new players entering the program.

“I try to do my best to make sure I’m (leading by example), so the younger kids on the team kind of pick up on that,” said Walker “We’re not only trying to be good this year as a team, we’re trying to build a culture, so we can be good for the ensuing years.”

Walker says he’s still deciding what he wants to do following graduation from UIS. However, he’s considering following in the footsteps of his father, Bill Walker, the head coach for the UIS men’s basketball team.

“I’ve done a pretty good job setting myself up for some future things, maybe coaching, kind of like my dad,” he said.

Walker says he’s glad he chose the University of Illinois Springfield and feels he’s getting a quality education in the classroom and on the court.

“I think UIS is a great school to go to,” he said. “It’s really a welcoming environment. We’ve got some great mentors, professors, coaches, so it’s the whole package.”

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