Written by Kale Catchings
My experience last week at the IOP with Clark Kellogg and Brittany Packnett, in combination with dinner alongside Mr. Kellogg and Tom McMillen, was yet another instance in which the meaning of Harvard Basketball extended far past what happens within the lines of Lavietes Pavilion.
The forum we took part and were thoroughly engaged in was relevant. We talked extensively about the purpose of student-athletes, possible compensation for participating in collegiate sports, and what that could possibly look like. One topic that was brought to the forefront that really captivated me was centered around athlete activism. After a summer involved in a public service project and movement building, I marvel at the platform athletes are given to share their views on relevant issues. Mr. Kellogg and Ms. Packnett did a great job touching on this point and talking about to what level, if any, are athletes responsible for taking stands and using the platform they have for the greater good.
After the forum, we made our way to dinner at Henrietta's Table where we sat down with Clark Kellogg, Peter Carfagna and Tom McMillen. One thing I really admire about my team is our ability to ask insightful questions that build off of one another without being redundant. Each person that raised their hand to ask a question truly added something valuable to the discussion and made it a great experience. During dinner, we delved deeper into this idea of compensating student-athletes and specifically how it would affect the collegiate sports that don't bring in any money. I hadn't thought much of this nuance but it was one of the many tidbits I took from the night.
Although I was very interested with all the topics we discussed, I was waiting for someone to ask the question on my mind but no one ever did. Finally, I had to take the conversation in a different direction and ask Clark Kellogg about what it was like to commentate on the NBA 2K video games, my personal favorite video game to play with the limited amount of free time I have. It was amazing to hear the inner workings of the game and made the night that much more special for me. After dinner, I got the opportunity to talk a little more with Mr. Kellogg and it was a very cool moment for me as he recollected a couple stories about my own family. He recalled playing my grandpa, Harvey Catchings, in the NBA and how he needed multiple ice bags after those games. He also told me about his relationship with my aunt, Tamika Catchings, and how amazed he was with all she is able to juggle after her career.
All in all, the night was a wonderful experience. I definitely appreciate opportunities like these, but as I am now reflecting, it really is amazing that these types of experiences continue to come our way. When I made my decision to come play basketball at Harvard, I knew it was bigger than basketball. I guess I just didn't know how much bigger and nights like the one we had at the IOP with Clark Kellog and others are ones that many other student-athletes, or any people our age, will get to experience. I am truly grateful to Brittany Packnett, Clark Kellogg, Tom McMillen and Peter Carfagna for sharing their time and wisdom with us. I am also very grateful to Coach Amaker and the rest of Harvard Basketball for the blessings they continue to organize and throw our way.