Gazette Feature On VA Thanksgiving Visit - UMass Athletics

Gazette Feature On VA Thanksgiving Visit

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Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a great feature story on the UMass basketball team and its visit to the VA Hospital in Northampton.

With too little time between Wednesday's win over American International College and Saturday's 3 p.m. game against Holy Cross, most of the University of Massachusetts men's basketball players didn't go home for Thanksgiving.

Instead, the Minutemen visited and shared a turkey dinner with staff at the Northampton Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Northampton on Thursday.

UMass coach Derek Kellogg said it was a new experience for most of his players and he was proud of the way they handled themselves.

"It was an eye-opening thing for a lot of us. You want to go and have a good time and brighten somebody's day and let them know we appreciate what they've done," Kellogg said. "Some of them don't have families or can't get home to their families, so it was good to go and change the monotony."

A visit to vets: UMass basketball team takes its Thanksgiving to the VA

The UMass basketball team celebrates Thanksgiving with veterans at the VA Center in Leeds

The UMass basketball celebrated its Thanksgiving on Thursday with staffers and veterans at the VA Center in Leeds.

AMHERST - With too little time between Wednesday's win over American International College and Saturday's 3 p.m. game against Holy Cross, most of the University of Massachusetts men's basketball players didn't go home for Thanksgiving.

Instead, the Minutemen visited and shared a turkey dinner with staff at the Northampton Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Northampton on Thursday.

UMass coach Derek Kellogg said it was a new experience for most of his players and he was proud of the way they handled themselves.

"It was an eye-opening thing for a lot of us. You want to go and have a good time and brighten somebody's day and let them know we appreciate what they've done," Kellogg said. "Some of them don't have families or can't get home to their families, so it was good to go and change the monotony."

The players visited with both younger veterans, many of whom were in attendance at Wednesday's win over American International, as well as some older ones, who'd fought in World War II and the Korean War.

Sophomore Javorn Farrell was moved by the experience.

"It was eye-opening and a little bit depressing seeing people who fought for their country and they basically have nothing now. I knew it existed, but I never saw it up close," he said. "You don't always believe everything you see on TV. When you see it up close, you know that it's real. It was good to go in there and know that they've been following us. It feels good to shake their hand and be with them for Thanksgiving."

Fellow sophomore Terrell Vinson was glad the team went.

"It was nice to see some vets. There were some guys who were there from World War II. It's remarkable to see people who had that experience," he said. "I hope it made their Thanksgiving better. I hope they enjoyed our company. It seemed like it."

Vinson hoped the veterans could make it to another game.

"Hopefully they'll be here again," he said.

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