In December of 1981 I asked a lady to accompany me to a St. Bonaventure Basketball game at the Reilly Center on campus. The lady agreed and so began a relationship that saw us fall in love. In time we were married and in April of 1984 Devin Jonathan was born. Diane wanted to name our son Devin and after some protests on my part the matter was settled and he was and is Devin Jonathan. Names can define people and the name Devin Jonathan has defined him. Devin comes from Gaelic and means “poet” and Jonathan is a Hebrew name that translates “gift of the Lord”.
Following our initial date and through the early years of our marriage we attended numerous St. Bonaventure contests. Devin attended these events, at first in vitro and then later as an infant and tiny boy. From those days until now Devin has had a passionate relationship with basketball. He has played it incessantly almost all of his 22 years. I can remember him playing in our garage with a little child’s backboard and rim. Later his Grandfather constructed a concrete pad and backboard in our yard. Devin spent hours there playing basketball with his friends. He practiced and practiced. He would arise at 5 am and go to school to lift weights and practice basketball. One of his early coaches said he had never seen a child so passionate about basketball in his life. In the summers he attended basketball camps near and far. In fact Devin was so busy attending basketball camps that he never had time to learn to drive a car. Most teenagers are obsessed with getting a license and getting on the road. Not so with Devin, he cared most about basketball and getting ready for Gus Macker tournaments, 3 on 3 tourneys, camps and eventually high school basketball.
I played a lot of basketball as a young man, but most of the time I sat the bench. There were lots of young men in my town who possessed better skills on the court than I. That didn’t dampen my resolve or still my interest in the game, but it did limit my playing time for years. Devin on the other hand had a real talent. He could dribble and shoot. He could pass. In fact like his name, his game was poetic. It was obvious that like his name he and his game were a gift from God. He and his game continued to improve and evolve and by the end of his senior year following two years on junior varsity and later two years on varsity he was one of the premier basketball players in our four county area of southwestern New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania. He was the leading scorer in our area as a senior and was named “Big 30 Basketball Player of the Year” for 2001-2002. In only two varsity seasons Devin had scored over 800 points. More important than his scoring was his leadership both on and off the court. A number of college coaches called our home. One young man called and wrote so much I told my wife that we should invite him for Christmas.
After visiting a couple of campuses Devin settled on nearby Fredonia State and began his college career. He has continued to work and excel both on and off the court. He scored 18 points in his second college game and won a starters role by the end of his freshman year. In the last four seasons Devin’s dream of playing college basketball has been more than realized. More than that Devin has had the opportunity to play with lots of other young men who share his passion for the game. Division III NCAA athletes play their respective sports without any remuneration. They literally pay to play. They attend classes everyday and are responsible for any scholastic work that is required of all the other students and in addition to that they live very busy lives filled with practices, games and long road trips to other schools.
Devin has had great teammates and good coaches who have effected his game and his life off the court. Devin’s passion for basketball has helped him to succeed in the classroom. He’s really matured into a fine young man. Devin finally took time to learn to drive this year and he even has found enough time in his life for a young lady.
In the past four seasons Diane and I have traveled all over part of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey to watch Devin and his mates compete. We’ve enjoyed the games and the company of other parents and coaches. We’ve shared in the young men’s triumphs and their losses. Tonight the journey ends. Tonight is senior night at State University of New York at Fredonia. Tonight is Devin’s last night in a Blue Devil uniform. It’s going to be tough for him to walk away after all these years.
I can’t tell you how proud we are of Devin. He’s played hurt all year. He’s had a broken coccycx since November and refused to go to doctor for fear that he could no longer play. Devin draws a lot of offensive fouls and every time someone knocks him on his tail he comes to his feet pain. In the last month and a half he’s played with torn cartillage in his left knee. Devin loves basketball so much that he’s endured all kinds of pain just to play. He’s not alone many of his teammates are nursing injuries. That’s a way of life in college sports. We’re proud of all the young men on the Fredonia State Basketball team and we’re blessed to have made so many friendships with the parents of those young men.
In a few months Devin and four of his teammates will graduate from SUNY Fredonia and all of this will be but a memory. It’s been a magnificent obsession that has propelled a young man to accomplish much both on and off the court.