There is no comparison when it comes to the griffin, a mythical creature with the head and wings of an eagle and body of a lion, and the hawk, a powerful bird of prey. For two of Hillsborough Community College’s Hawks men’s basketball players, Sean Ezeamama and Tyler Funk, the real bird is the word. The athletes played their first year at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY whose mascot is the griffin.
When the teammates’ former school had a change in the coaching staff, flying south to the balmy breezes of the Tampa Bay area was a no brainer. Warmer weather and a good education were not the only reasons for coming to Florida and attending HCC. A major priority for the guys was playing basketball for someone who believed in them and had their backs, a father figure have you, as in Coach Derrick Worrels. He is also the same coach they played for at Canisius.
Ezeamama, a guard for the Hawks, shared that, “There was such a strong bond between Coach Worrels and the team not only on the court but in the locker room, bus and plane.” “He worked so hard for us and that is why I am taking the opportunity to be prepared and work just as hard for coach and the team.” Candidly, Worrels, who checks the daily temperature in Buffalo, will admit that he is a players’ coach as opposed to one who just gives orders. He stated, “My door is always open to anything my athletes need to talk about or discuss.” Although Worrels has his own personal thoughts and processes on motivation and high academics, he has high regards for the excellent examples set by Coach Tony Dungy.
Tyler, a forward, is looking ahead to basketball season and has high expectations both on and off the court. In addition to doing well in academics, Funk said, “I have a good feeling about the team.” “Everybody trusts everyone else; we are family to each other!” Besides, coach wants his player to focus on family, school, then basketball, in that order. Funk is appreciative of the fact that he can wake up to palm trees every morning and no frost on the window pane. He also knows that Coach Worrels was quite instrumental in providing assistance in becoming a HCC athlete.
Derrick Worrels, a 14 year veteran Hawks basketball coach and former academic advisor, has embraced the unexpected road back home to Tampa. He coached the last two seasons in Buffalo. This year’s team is made up of lots of transfer students who at times resemble mismatched puzzle pieces. From Worrels observation, all of the players are taking full advantage of their second chance, starting from scratch and striving to get better. He stated, “All of the young men are building on their strengths and want to surpass where they were before.” And where Coach Worrels was before and now is “home sweet home,”
Article Written By: Dale Mabry Staff