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Moraine Valley basketball alumnae return to celebrate coach, play ball and reconnect

After 20 years, and counting, leading the Moraine Valley Community College women’s basketball program has led Head Coach Delwyn Jones to work with young athletes from all backgrounds, creeds and skill levels. Several of them came back earlier this month to celebrate the coach’s milestone, play some ball and reminisce.

Recognizing Jones’ two decades coaching at Moraine Valley, alumna All-American Sharnita Lloyd (2008-10) worked the social media line to get as many former players reunited as possible. At least 16 former players, some removed from being teammates by 10 years, put on gym shoes to return to the court in a friendly scrimmage refereed by Jones, who also added a microphone to his whistle to add colorful commentary. The players joked about needing oxygen, as some haven’t played regularly since college. But, they all fondly remember their time at Moraine Valley.

“This was the first time in a long time I’ve played basketball like this. I just play ball with my 3-year-old now,” said Kristy Scialabba (2009-11), who just graduated from the EMT program at Moraine Valley and is entering the Fire Academy. “I’ve played other places after Moraine Valley, but it meant everything here. Coach was the best motivator, probably the biggest I had. My teammates became family. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I miss this place.”

They ran the full court, substituted in others who arrived later, boxed out, blocked shots, made fast breaks, even got called on some fouls when Jones paid attention. A few players were reunited on the court with former teammates, like Lloyd and Scialabba.

“Being here feels like home. It was a family. The staff, coaches and players were great. The support is amazing here,” said Lloyd, who played some basketball on the Air Force team. She is still in the Air Force and works operations for Amazon in Ohio, returning to Illinois just for this event.

After the scrimmage, Jones had Lloyd and Scialabba talk to his current team before their home game. Then the alumnae watched the Cyclones rout College of DuPage before a simple reception.

“It’s always good to see these faces who had their two years and had a good experience. Kristy and Sharnita were very inspiring in talking to my players. They were in their shoes and gave them good insight,” Jones said.

Additional alumnae attended the reception, where they laughed over old team photos and recalled teammates or funny and meaningful moments.

“Jones was a human supporter. I was a mom when I played, and I couldn’t afford shoes. He bought them for me and wouldn’t take money when we tried to pay him back,” said Tiffany Woods (2006-08), who works as a paraprofessional working with special needs students. “Playing here taught me family outside of home and how to be held accountable. My teammates were on you on the court and classroom.”

“My time here was the best experience in my life. There were a lot of supportive teachers, coaches and friends. They kept me out of trouble,” said April Flowers (2005-07), who works at Whole Foods in Indiana. “I remember it felt good to win. It was a vibe, and we generally were happy to do our best.”

Even after his players move on, transfer and graduate from four-year colleges and universities, Jones still welcomes them back to shoot the ball around at practices and engage with the current team.

“We say once a Cyclone, always a Cyclone. He always welcomes every- one back and greets them with a hug and smile. It’s like coming home,” said Kathleen Zulevic, assistant women’s basketball coach and alum (2005-07).

These former hoopsters hope to continue the tradition of returning for a yearly celebration of Cyclone basketball, particularly while Jones is around.

“The one reason I keep coaching is the relationship with these players,” Jones explained. “To see them come back and are successful in life and that they have fond memories from Moraine Valley does something for the soul and spirit.”

Joseph Phillips

Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

Sports Editor at Chicago Crusader Newspaper | + posts

Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.

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