Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 15 No. 3 | December 2022

22 Inside Hokie Sports It brought me a substantial amount of perspective. Due to a coaching change, I ended up transferring to the University of Delaware the following season to continue my education and playing career. Once again, most people don’t look at High Point and Delaware as powerhouses with national exposure, but I’ll always be thankful for the experiences I had at those schools as a student-athlete. Those chapters were instrumental to my game and personal development. Playing for two smaller universities, I wasn’t used to having such a large and supportive fan base. I never played home games in an arena that holds close to 10,000 people like Cassell Coliseum. I wasn’t accustomed to charter flights to tournaments and away games. I learned very quickly that the Power Five and the ACC are completely different ball games. If I had started my career as a Hokie in Blacksburg, I don’t think I would have the same outlook and appreciation I have today. So, I’m eternally grateful to High Point, Delaware, and especially Virginia Tech for the opportunities to compete and continue my educational journey. The power of mentorship Psychology is always something that’s fascinated me. In fact, two of my three degrees are in the psychology field. I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Delaware, and I earned my second master’s degree this past May from Virginia Tech in educational psychology. I always took a great interest in psychology because I wanted to focus on being the best version of myself. And to have the right state of mind to accomplish that. I’ve learned so much in the last few years of studying this field — I’m in a position now where I want to help people improve their mental health and maximize their potential. More precisely, I have a special place in my heart for mentoring the youth. I recently had the opportunity to get involved with a youth program for the West End Center in Roanoke. I had an absolute blast talking to the kids, shooting some hoops with them, and ultimately, just being someone that’s there to listen to anything they want to talk about. They view me as a towering figure, both literally and figuratively. Being a basketball player at a big-time program like Virginia Tech, I can use my platform to my advantage. When I talk, the kids listen intently and give me their full attention when I offer advice or words of wisdom. I know I had a mentor when I was around the middle school age, and this person was an extremely influential person in my life that helped guide me down the right path. That’s exactly who I want to be for these kids. If they don’t have a mentor in their life, or anyone they can reach out to for support, there’s no telling what might happen. One bad decision could negatively impact them for the rest of their lives. That said, being a mentor is not a responsibility I take lightly, and I’m blessed to have the platform that I do to help guide and lead the future generation. A career of giving back One moment I’ll never forget is when I came back to the West End Center for a second time after my initial visit. It caught me a little off guard how surprised the kids were to see me again. “You’re here!” “You’re actually here!” “You came back!” That affected me in a major way because that showed me these kids aren’t used to seeing the same visitor multiple times. I don’t visit these kids as a photo op or to show face. I visit them because I genuinely care about them and want to be a positive influence in their lives. Because the thing is, giving back to the youth is a career goal and ambition of mine. I want to play basketball for as long as I can, but when my playing days are over, I’d love to be a counselor in some capacity. Having the chance to be a coach would also be amazing. I’m not entirely sure what my exact position looks like when I stop dribbling the basketball, but I do know it will impact the youth in a beneficial way. Unfortunately, being an athlete doesn’t last forever. One day, whether that’s tomorrow, next year, or ten years from now, basketball will come to an end. You have to find other things in life that you’re passionate about. I’m hoping I’ve still got a fair amount of buckets, boards, and double-doubles in my future, but when I hang up my sneakers for good, I feel confident that I have a number of other endeavors to fall back on. And plenty of young lives to positively impact and change. Virginia Tech graduation, May 2021. From left to right: Justyn Mutts, Keve Aluma, Jonathan Kabongo, Tyrece Radford, and Alise Svihla in the front. IMPACTING Youth THE Continued from page 21