Men’s JV team returns next fall
by Cachell Clay
Two years ago the men’s basketball team had a junior varsity squad, where students could try out and have the possibility of making the varsity team. Then it was cut. But next season, because of its demand, it will be brought back.
Head coach Kim Elders saw the need when more students wanted to join the team, but he did not have enough space.
“We have a lot of kids out there interested in Cornerstone,” Elders said. “We want them to have a place to come and play, and hopefully have them to a point where they can maybe be a varsity player some day.”
Assistant coach Lance Roark, along with Elders, felt it was a good decision to bring back the junior varsity team. Roark believes it is not only a good experience for the players, but also the coaches who participate, including the last junior varsity coach and now fellow assistant coach, Eric DeSantis.
“Eric DeSantis and I have both coached the JV,” Roark said. “Along with many other coaches over the years, Eric is unable to do it because of his work schedule. But we’re starting it up for many reasons.”
Elders explained why the junior varsity team was cut two years ago.
“The last couple years we had to bring our freshmen in, and they had to play varsity right away, because we needed them,” Elders said.
But with the men’s basketball team filled with upperclassmen, now Elders is ready to jump start the program with a JV team once again.
“Now we have some juniors and seniors,” Elders said. “So the kids we bring in, of course there will be two or three that we have to play varsity, but the rest are players that we can afford to have them spend some time on the JV and develop.”
Roark and Elders decided to bring in Dennis Graham to coach the junior varsity team.
“Dennis has been a part of our program for many years as a manager, scout, camp director and assistant,” Roark said. “He has a passion for the game, for Cornerstone and for people. He really wants to create a positive, competitive environment for young, developing players.”
Graham attended Cornerstone and was the manager for the varsity team from 2003 to 2005.
“It will be my first college head coaching experience,” Graham said. “This past year I was an assistant coach for Alma College. I did some coaching with the Grand Rapids Storm AAU team for a year, and I have been a varsity coach at a couple different high schools. All together I’ve been coaching for 10 or 11 years.”
Elders and Roark sat down and decided it was time to bring back the JV team.
“Coach Roark and I have been talking about it,” Elders said. “Because we just had so many of these type of kids, that were JV-type of kids, they weren’t ready for varsity. It was so many of them that we were like, ‘Wow we should get this started again.’”
Graham plans to run the same program as Elders to help the players prepare for varsity.
“I’m going to run the same things that ‘Coach E’ runs,” Graham said. “Basically, it’s my job to get any of these kids ready for him. So they need to be on the same page with what varsity is doing to be able to jump right in and go.”
Roark recalled the help the junior varsity team provided to many of the past varsity players.
“It’s a great experience builder for players, allowing them to get many games in at the college level,” Roark said. “It allows for players to prove themselves and ‘win’ a spot on varsity, like Corey DeSantis, Jesse Tien, Jared Crandell, Mike Long and many others have done over the years.”
Graham is glad to be back.
“I’m super excited to be back home,” Graham said. “I told my parents when I graduated that eventually I was going to get my way back here. I think I needed to go out and prove to myself that I wanted to be a head college coach, and by the grace of God I’ve been given an opportunity to come back to where I wanted to be.”