In the heat of this past summer, Danny Lawson, a former St. Thomas University student, decided to spread a bit of Tommie pride, and donated approximately 20 soccer and basketball jerseys to kids in Malawi, Africa.
Lawson was able to do this with the help of someone closer to home, women’s basketball coach Fred Connors.
“To be able to help kids that don’t have jerseys and let them feel like a part of our community, a part of our team, it’s an awesome feeling,” said Connors.
After travelling to Africa to visit his in-laws, Lawson and his wife were touched by the happy and welcoming community. They made friends with the locals, specifically three brothers named Moises, Patrick and Humphrey, one of whom is an avid soccer player.
When they began planning to return for a second trip, they decided they wanted to do something nice for the Ngoni tribe, one of the groups in Malawi.
Thinking about the large group of soccer fans and players in the village, Lawson contacted Connors. The two had been basketball teammates during their time at St. Thomas and had remained friends.
Lawson wanted to donate some old STU jerseys to the community.
Mike Eagles, STU’s athletics director, gave them access to the jerseys and permission to donate them the children of the Ngoni tribe.
Lawson was very impressed with the charitable nature of his alma matter.
“How readily available and how happy they were [to provide], without expecting anything in return. It was quite great,” he said.
Even though he and his wife were limited by the amount of luggage they could bring, they managed to bring enough jerseys for an entire team to Malwai.
Spreading Tommie pride lead Connors and Lawson to reminisce about time on the court, friends and giving back to the community. This spirit also reminds them of the university’s energy and hard work, they said.
“The energy that was put into these jerseys is pretty tremendous,” said Lawson.
That energy is something Lawson remembers well. Some of the jerseys donated were from his Tommies team in the nineties.
STU’s players’ enthusiasm was matched by the Ngoni soccer players who put the jerseys to use the same day they received them, Lawson said.
The village even performed a ceremonial dance for them as a thank you.
Connors and Lawson were just happy to transfer some of their Tommie pride over to a young team with a big spirit.
“I think that’s what Tommie pride is all about, people just wanting to give … You do the right thing because that’s the right thing to do,” said Connors.
Lawson said he hope hopes the spirit passes through to the soccer players on the other side of the world now wearing STU jerseys.
“Hopefully that’s something they’ll remember and pass forward.”
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