On and off the court, the PUC Pioneers basketball teams are demonstrating dedication to excellence as students and athletes—and community servants. Though they have had a busy schedule with games and practices, the teams have found time to reach out to the community and give back. This season, the men’s team visited the San Quentin State Prison, while the women’s basketball team stayed local to help out the Calistoga Community Center. The visits were a learning experience the student-athletes will never forget.
PUC’s six varsity teams (men’s basketball, cross country, and soccer and women’s basketball, cross country, and volleyball) play in the California Pacific Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). PUC student-athletes are committed to the NAIA Champion of Character program, which was developed in response to the growing problem of deteriorating standards and integrity in sports and society. PUC’s adoption of the NAIA Champions of Character program raises the standards for positive student-athlete development in athletics and academics.
In October, the men’s basketball team traveled to the San Quentin State Prison not only to play basketball with the inmates, but also exchange share life experiences. The players went away with a greater appreciation of their own opportunities. The most rewarding part of the visit was during half time, when the PUC student athletes and the inmates had the opportunity to share their testimonies with one another. The inmates opened up about dreams built on faith and hard work, both of the past and future.
Many of the inmates were able to tell stories of how they too had the opportunity to play college basketball, until their unfortunate life choices led them to their current long-term to life sentences in prison. “It was at that moment I believed our players finally were able to put things into perspective about how lucky they are and how quickly it can all be taken away,” Greg Rahn, men’s basketball coach, explains.
During their practice and play schedule over Christmas break, the women’s basketball team also lent a helping hand by volunteering in the town Calistoga. The players took a break from drills to travel north to help the Holiday Assistance Program. The student athletes visited the Calistoga’s community center to sort through canned food and fill boxes with food and toys.
On the court, the Pioneers (5-10) have been giving their all to the sport. Before losing to Biola University, the men’s basketball team was on a three game winning streak. The Lady Pioneers (2-11) experienced two victories on the road, and hope to continue going strong. While the life of a student-athlete is full, Rahn notes, “The players have the blessing to be able to play the sport they love to help continue their education and get one step closer to their dreams.”
Follow the Pioneers season and learn more about the varsity program on the Pioneers’ website.