Mercer students start club basketball team amid COVID-19 

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Image: Keith Holmes Jr.

Mercer University Club Basketball President Kevin Kinnard kneels on the sideline during the final 3 on 3 drill of the day’s practice Nov. 6.

Mercer University junior Kevin Kinnard was always passionate about basketball growing up, and he wanted to carry that passion with him to Mercer. COVID-19 hasn’t kept him from expressing that passion in the form of Mercer’s Club Basketball team.

When Kinnard arrived as a freshman in 2018, he participated in the original Mercer Club Basketball team.

“My freshman year, we played a couple of times (in) a couple tournaments. I had a lot of fun. And my sophomore year, we didn’t because of certain different things, because of conflict,” Kinnard said. “So I decided, Okay, well, I know I’m gonna continue doing this. So let me just go ahead and be the one to make it.” 

Kinnard is now the president of the new Mercer Basketball Club team along with a full staff of other students including vice president and social media manager Jerrell Smith, treasurer Elijah Berry, assistant coach Jacoby Felder and head coach Jeremiah Pulliam. 

“I had to have a staff in order to get the application done. And these guys are amazing guys, they are. They all have the same love for basketball that I do, and without them, I wouldn’t be able to do (this), we wouldn’t be here today,” Kinnard said. 

The club in their second bout of tryouts after having their first round on Oct. 22. 

“(The) first day the tryouts went amazing. Nobody questioned us when it came to COVID protocol. We set it up great. We had drills ready, everybody had fun even though you know it’s a hard time to even try to do anything,” Kinnard said. 

COVID-19 protocols dictated that players and staff would have to wear masks when not participating in play, drills could only consist of five or less players on each side of the court and the staff sanitized the balls before and after tryouts. 

These protocols were put in place by student Gerald Washington, the club’s COVID-19 safety manager. 

Even once the team is established, they’re looking forward to next semester when it comes to playing in tournaments.

“We discussed the possibility of a tournament and there’s no way, you know, a tournament could happen this fall,” Kinnard said. “I understand that I don’t want to put anyone at risk.”

Kinnard had high hopes for anyone looking to join the team as a player, staff or even as a partner organization. 

“I would introduce club basketball as a part of Mercer that loves basketball. I love the game, if you would love to ever have any type of opportunity to be involved in basketball as a player, coach, staff, anything, we’re open to anyone,” Kinnard said.  

The second round of tryouts are scheduled Nov. 6 from 6-8 p.m. and Nov. 7 from 2-4 p.m. at the University Center intramural courts. Anyone looking to try out must provide a negative COVID-19 test to attend. 

The team is looking to admit anywhere from 14 to 15 players on their roster and is accepting all applications for staff positions.