It’s now been a decade since the 2009-2010 West Virginia men’s basketball team made their run to the Final Four, and they’re reuniting with Mountaineer fans with the “Ten Years Later: A Live Hangout for Charity” event.
Wellington Smith, a forward on that squad and an organizer of the event, spent 110 minutes on the floor in that year’s NCAA Tournament. His fondest memories, however, come from the countless minutes he spent off it with his team — something he and his former teammates hope to bring back with their fans with the live hangout.
“The game was the game, but the extra stuff that was part of the Final Four run [are my favorite memories,” Smith told WVI. “The commercial, the banquets, the team film sessions, the practices. You’d likely speak to a whole bunch of former athletes and one of the things they might mention is the camaraderie that you have during the course of a season or during the course of one game. And that’s kind of how I felt.”
Smith says the event was originally the brainchild of WVU assistant coach Erik Martin, who approached a group of former players about holding an event to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of their historic run.
“With that, we were all like, you know, let’s figure something out,” Smith said. “I was like, well since everyone’s doing these Zoom hangout things, why don’t we just do that?”
After some consideration and discussion, the charity event was born. It was decided that the proceeds would go to the #TeamDanny Cancer Research Foundation, which is named after the father of former guard Joe Mazzulla, Dan, who passed away earlier this year.
Smith remembers back to when he first met Joe, Dan and their family — they were a group he could relate to, and ultimately, they became his own family.
“When [Dan] passed, it was devastating,” he said. “Not only devastating I’m sure for Joe and his family, but also devastating to his extended family…across the country. I think the only way to kind of help and give back to your family members is just to remember them long after they are gone, and this is one way to do that.”
The team also wants to use this chance to give back to another important group of people — their fans.
“The Final Four is so hard to get to. You have the blue bloods of the world that get to them like once or twice every four years, five years. But for…West Virginia, it took a long time,” Smith said. “So…I see this as an opportunity to continue to give back to what the great state of West Virginia gave us, which was an opportunity to succeed and to grow as young men to men, that followed us on a consistent basis to wherever we went….So why not do what we can long after we’re done playing to continue to give back and to make sure that the current team can…get to the point where we were as Mountaineers.”
The hangout will be hosted by Tony Caridi and will feature several members of the team, including Smith, Martin, Mazzulla, and Bob Huggins — plus much more.
Tickets for the event are on sale now and can be purchased for $10 by clicking here.
If you don’t wish to join the hangout but still want to donate, you can either email TeamDannyMazzulla@gmail.com or mail a check payable to #TeamDanny to:
- TeamDanny- Cancer Resource Foundation
- 7 Luther Court
- Johnston, RI 02919