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Coach aims to feed hungry for the holidays

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Posted: Monday, November 11, 2013 11:08 pm | Updated: 8:53 am, Thu Feb 6, 2014.

The armory reverberates as the Virginia University of Lynchburg’s women’s basketball team battles Oakwood University and the men’s team warms up for their fourth game of the week.

By the ticket table just outside the door, Steven Wallace waits patiently by a box of donated canned goods.

“You always have to give back,” said Wallace, who launched the men’s basketball team’s first-ever holiday food drive last week.

A volunteer associate coach for the men’s team at VUL, Wallace, aims to gather turkeys, perishables and at least 1,500 canned goods for the needy for Christmas. In the past, the team has hosted holiday dinners, but this year, Wallace said he wanted to do even more.

He hopes the team’s food drive is just the first step.

“It’s always good to support the community that supports us,” said 21-year-old Lakuan McPhaul, a shooting guard and Heritage High School graduate who plays for VUL.

The food drive, which runs through Dec. 21, is one of a half-dozen volunteer projects the team is involved in, from holding a carnival for residents at the Central Virginia Training Center to participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“I’m trying to be that positive person in the community that I didn’t have,” McPhaul, a sociology major, said.

Wallace, an assistant basketball coach at Virginia State University for seven years until leaving to coach softball at Saint Paul’s College, was the head volleyball and softball coach at VUL until this year.

He requires his athletes to serve 45 hours of community service. He said it is important for the athletes to hold this holiday food drive so they can understand no matter how little you have, you always have something to give and so the community can see how great his players are.

To date the men’s team, whose season opener was Oct. 29, has tallied about 40 hours in community service.

“Lynchburg is a little city and if you can get involved you will have an impact people,” said Chris Calvin, a forward on the men’s team.

Head men’s basketball coach Buddy Mason said the food drive, and other volunteer projects are just as important as the big plays made on the court.

“It’s the most important thing we do,” Mason said. “Somewhere along the line in their lives, these kids had this happen to them” and the athletes now are working to pay it forward.

Food drive collections will go on at all VUL and Lynchburg Legends home basketball games now through Dec. 21. Both teams play at the Lynchburg Armory on Church Street in downtown Lynchburg. All food donated will be given to the Blue Ridge Area Food bank’s Lynchburg branch.

“I expect great things out of this team,” Wallace said.

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