VESTAL (WBNG) — This season, the Binghamton Men’s basketball team will be playing for much more than just numbers on the scoreboard.
“When you go through something like this, you realize it’s about so much more than just winning and losing, and it was a really difficult experience, and something that we had to go through together,” said Head Coach Tommy Dempsey.
Tragedy struck the team in July when incoming sophomore Calistus Anyichie unexpectedly passed away.
“We’ll miss having the next years to come with him, we feel like we got deprived of that, because he was such a big part of our program, of our future,” said Coach Dempsey.
And while the void can’t be filled, the loss has changed the Bearcats perspective on the game of basketball.
“After that incident in the summer, you can see everybody on the team trying to become a better person. just because of that, and I think that’s the positive we took out of that,” said sophomore guard Sam Sessoms.
For Sessoms, his memories with Calistus are countless, but the first stems back to their initial visit to BU.
“I remember telling my dad, man Calistus can talk. And it’s just sad now, because that’s the only thing you want to hear from Calistus. is just him talking again,” said Sessoms.
As the team reflects on Calistus, they remember him embodying what Coach Dempsey always reminded them.
“Be open-minded, ask questions, and just be respectful for the most part.He never treated anybody differently. No matter the age, what year they were,” said Sessoms.
In the last few months, the Bearcats have had to come together and show remarkable strength..
“One of the things they hear me say all the time is who you are as a person is more important than who you are as a basketball player, and I felt very proud of the group we had through this tough time,” said Coach Dempsey.
And now, every time the they take the court, whether it’s practice or a game..
“His memory is going to be with us forever. Any time that we put the uniforms on, take the court, we try to make him proud, play for him, play for each other, use it to motivate us,” said Coach Dempsey.