Three senior players from the men’s basketball team, Abel Galliguez, Coleson Rakestraw and E.J. McWoods, will be leaving the team upon graduation this May.
The seniors will complete the spring semester without stepping foot on the court again at John Brown University.
Galliguez said now that he is leaving, his relationship with his coach is different.
“I feel like I can call coach my friend now,” he said.
Now that Galliguez is leaving, his former coach can gain input regarding the team.
“Coach Sheehy is there for us,” Galliguez said.
Normally he wouldn’t talk to a coach, but when his Grandma passed away his coach supported him through his grief.
One thing that Galliguez enjoyed the most about playing basketball for JBU was the consistency and character of the team and having the same work ethic and a team over self-mentality on and off the court.
One thing that Galliguez would like to change about athletics in general at JBU is more integration of athletes and non-athletes.
“As a university we need to work to diminish cliques,” Galliguez said.
In previous years, Galliguez played alongside his twin brother Thomas. This season was his first time without him on the team.
“My brother brings out the best of me, pushing me to my limits, and without him around I began to notice his input and his perspective in my other teammates,” Galliguez said.
Rakestraw enjoyed playing and working together with his teammates.
“Our team is a family and playing basketball brought us closer together,” Rakestraw said. “Playing basketball here has helped me create great friendships.”
Rakestraw and his teammates all go through a lot of the same challenges and struggles. They can relate with each other well and are there for each other like family.
Rakestraw still keeps in touch with teammates from past years.
He also appreciates the leadership of his coach.
“One of the great things about Coach Sheehy is that he cares about his players as a person outside of basketball and wants to see them grow as men,” he said.
One aspect of playing basketball at JBU that was challenging for Rakestraw was trying to balance everything.
At times it was difficult for Rakestraw to balance basketball, schoolwork and time with friends and family.
“It caused for some stressful times, but it was definitely worth it in the end,” Rakestraw said.
McWoods most enjoyed the bond he made with different guys on the team and the way they all had each other’s backs if anything happened.
“I can go to any of them about anything and know that they want my best interest at hand,” McWoods said.
If there was one thing that McWoods would change about his time on the team, it would be his interactions with others outside of basketball.
“I didn’t reach my full potential of getting to know others outside of basketball,” he said.
McWoods said he can go to Coach Sheehy about anything and that he will give him his best knowledge possible to fulfill it.
“Over the years, we went through hard times for a reason so I could get to the point I am today,” McWoods said.
Clark Sheehy, head coach, said things change when the last game is over and there is less exposure to each other.
“After the last game, it is not player to coach, it is man to man,” Sheehy said.
Sheehy said he and the team learned so much through the highs and lows of every situation.
“In the end, when they come back to visit we can laugh about the highs and the lows that we experienced together,” Sheehy said.
The coach said he has no regrets of coaching them and that they are good representatives of JBU. He considers preparation that the team goes through when people are not watching is of value.
“They make sure that they are ready in every way when the lights come on in the arena,” Sheehy said.
Sheehy said he is always there for each member of the team even when they graduate.
“I am loyal to them, and they are loyal and devoted to me,” Sheehy said.
Sheehy enjoys the impact that he gets to have on the lives of every player that comes through the basketball program.
“This is an excellent group of seniors, and they remind me of why I started coaching in the first place,” Sheehy said.
The three players want to leave a legacy of striving to improve and be consistent for the team members they leave behind after graduation.