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Turbulent times for IVC basketball players

January 13, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

IMPERIAL — The tough times for the Imperial Valley College men's basketball team seem to just keep getting worse.

The Arabs are struggling through a 3-14 season, but for four squad members, that is among the last thing on their minds. Alonzo Blackman, T.J. Brunson, Clarence Campbell and Ryan Holmes, who share a home, had all their belongings stolen during a break-in Jan. 6.

The burglary of their El Centro home was the second in a week, the first coming Dec. 30. Both incidents happened while the team was out of town for road games. Among the items taken from were credit cards, money, radios, televisions, beds, dressers, Tupperware and silverware and clothes.

"They took all our stuff and just wiped us out," said Holmes, 19, of Fresno. "Whoever did it made us look like fools.


"A lot of the stuff that was taken were just material things. But then there were things like old game tapes and jewelry we've had since we were kids that meant a lot to us, those things you just can't replace."

Walking into their home and seeing nothing but the pictures on the walls, all agreed emotions were running high. With feelings of anger and disbelief, among their first thoughts was leaving the Valley.

"When this happened again I just thought about going back home," said the 19-year-old Brunson, of Statesboro, Ga. "But I just look at this as an obstacle thrown my way. I was either going to fold and leave or stay here. Now, it's like, we have to start all over."

All four players have decided to stay. But with all that has happened one couldn't blame the athletes for leaving, particularly Blackman.

While Brunson, Campbell and Holmes have gone through much, Blackman's tribulations seem even more trying. In this his second year playing for the Arabs, Blackman has not only gone through the recent burglaries, but was victimized similarly last year. He didn't lose anything then, but last year he did have to go through controversy surrounding the men's team when it was placed on probation by the Pacific Coast Conference for players receiving illegal subsidies from the Imperial Valley Sports Association.

Blackman wasn't living with the others at the time of the most recent burglary, but was staying there on a temporary basis. He planned on moving on his own, but all his money, clothes and birth certificate were taken, putting his plans on hold.

"I really don't have a home right now. We're all just staying with one of our coaches," said the 20-year-old San Francisco native. "I've got nothing. But I've been here this long, so I might as well stay."

While Blackman seems to be rolling with the punches, the decision for Campbell was more difficult. Of the four, he may have been the closest to going home. For him that is Philadelphia.

"Every time something like this happens, leaving crosses my mind," said the 23-year-old Campbell. "It's difficult to stay out here … worrying about where you're going to stay and what's going to happen. I was close to leaving, but all I've got back home is just my daughter and my girl.

"So if I stay out here, maybe I can make something of myself for them," added Campbell.

While it has been difficult to focus on playing basketball, all four said playing is the only thing that can clear their minds of the situation.

Arab coach Nick Gehler said while the thefts have made it difficult for everyone to concentrate, it has in a way helped bring everyone closer together.

Gehler said receiving help from anywhere is his hope.

"These guys are basically homeless and living out of their bags," said Gehler. "I'm just hoping that some of the people in the community can come forward and help these guys out.

"They're pretty much in need of everything. So if anyone can help out, whether it be some kind of donation or selling something at a minimum dollar amount, we'd really appreciate it."

Those looking to help should contact Gehler at 355-6278.

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