UPDATE: Photo Gallery
After an 11.5 hour trip to Alabama, the Men's USCAA Division 1 Championship winners–the Oakwood University Ambassadors –returned to campus on Sunday, March 11, 2012, welcomed with the enthusiastic support of their friends, classmates, and administrators.
Over 100 people gathered inside the Ashby Auditorium awaiting the team's arrival. Many students sat and took pictures, while others watched both President Leslie N. Pollard and Dean David Knight, Vice President of Student Activities, shoot hoops with some of the students.
Dr. Pollard, like so many other supporters, parents and friends, had watched the Ambassadors' championship game in real time the night before, online. Pollard says that he was "proud, happy and pumped" while watching the game and reading the tweets written by Oakwood students and others watching the game on Twitter. As a testament to this win, something that hasn't happened since 2008, Pollard asserts that, "hard work gets rewarded."
More than just winning the championship, these men stood up for their faith, according to Cedric Francois, producer and play-by-play announcer for Ambassador Radio Network. "This is the first time in the USCAA's history the Championship games for both Men's Division 1 and 2 were rescheduled to respect the religious convictions of Oakwood and Andrews Universities, respectively."
The USCAA is composed of over 100 predominantly small institutions across the United States. To win the tournament, Oakwood had to win three games consecutively -- Thursday afternoon, Friday afternoon, plus the championship game, which is usually played on Saturday. The Sabbath rest paid off for Oakwood – handsomely.
Everyone gathered outside as word was received that the bus was approaching campus. Some friends held up a "Congratulations!" banner, others shook pom-poms, anticipating the team's arrival. As the bus turned the corner near Peterson Hall, students and administrators alike, waved their arms and chanted with one voice "O U, O U!!"
Team members got off the bus in front of the gym and were adorned with yellow and blue leis, symbols of welcome and congratulations, and were photographed and embraced by their friends. Nardo Bryant, senior Ambassador, thanked the crowd for their support and well wishes. The brief celebration ended with remarks from Dean Knight and a prayer by President Pollard, thanking God for traveling mercies and the championship win.