HPU fellowship jumps to the next level
By Megan Haverlah, HPU junior
BROWNWOOD – February 13, 2012 – At Howard Payne University, interaction with students beyond the classroom is an important part of the university experience. How can faculty and staff find new and fun ways to relate with students? Faculty member Lester Towell has an answer – Full Court Fellowship, student and employee basketball games played on a regular basis.
Full Court Fellowship was founded by Towell, chair of the Department of Computer Information Systems and associate professor of CIS, about 10 years ago. It aims to combine basketball, exercise and fun. The faculty and staff divide into two teams and students fill the empty spots. Both men and women are encouraged to participate.
“As the faculty and staff members get their workouts in and head back to their offices, more students are invited to play,” said Towell.
The games are played in the university’s Elliston-Cassle Wellness Center two days a week during the school year and three times a week during the summer. The time varies from semester to semester to accommodate the largest number of players, but this semester FCF is playing Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 p.m.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet professors you don’t have classes with and let them get to know your name,” said Michael Ballejo, a freshman from Brownwood. “Basketball is my favorite sport. I love coming out here to play, and for old guys they are pretty good!”
The score is kept, and friendly competition is encouraged for the FCF games. However, “win or lose we will still make sure to get exercise and fellowship,” said Towell.
“Last semester, each day would typically start with six or seven faculty,” he said. “We had 12 faculty/staff show up for our first FCF this semester.”
Some faculty and staff who have participated for many years include Towell; Corey Ash, associate professor of music and director of bands; Abram Choate, director of sports information; Dr. Gerry Clarkson, associate professor of physical science; Mike Dillard, assistant professor of business administration; and Dr. Bill Fowler, assistant professor of Christian studies.
Also enjoying taking part in the games this year are Soren Baird, resident director; Dr. Danny Brunette-Lopez, chair of the Department of Modern Languages and associate professor of Spanish; Isaac Hawkins, interim resident director; and Dr. Ken Word, Chair of the Department of Mathematics and professor of mathematics.
The staff and faculty enjoy being able to spend time getting to know students on a personal basis.
“It seems I have students in class every semester who I first met on the basketball court,” said Dillard.
Rather than seeing it as another commitment in a busy day, FCF participants enjoy spending their free time playing basketball with each other.
“I don’t consider it giving up my time any more than teaching CIS is ‘giving up my time,’” said Towell. “It is exactly what I want to do and it is using the gifts that God gave me. I think it is essential for students to see the faculty in arenas other than the classroom. Relationships built on the court are just as significant as those built in classes.”
Full Court Fellowship has been a consistent way for faculty, staff and students to come together and enjoy time relaxing over the years, but Dillard has advice.
“Avoid being guarded by Bill Fowler like the plague,” he joked. “This is a real warning!”
Photo cutline: HPU faculty, staff and students play basketball in the university’s Elliston-Cassle Wellness Center.