SFA Lumberjacks – Teaching Lessons of Character and Toughness
For over 20 years I’ve been sitting behind the public address microphone at the SFA Ladyjack and Lumberjack basketball games. In that time, I’ve seen some wonderful games and great seasons, but this year has been special, magical, and captivating.
I have witnessed a group of young men who are the epitome of what character, integrity, toughness, and confidence are all about.
These guys personify the lessons that I try to teach my kids every day, things like work hard, stay positive, and keep grounded. When you live life like that, the rewards will naturally come, and boy have they ever. The Jacks are the regular season Southland Conference champs and the Southland Tournament champs. They have won 31 out of 33 games this year and are currently on a 28 game winning streak. Some of those 31 wins were blowouts while others were electrifying last second buzzer beaters that give proof to the leadership and resiliency of this group.
The SFA Lumberjacks have every right to stick out there collective chests and say “Hey, look at what we’ve done!” But, that’s just not their style. They’re more of a pat on the back than a chest bump. They are a testament to the difference between a team that wants to win as opposed to expecting to win. With the regimen that 1st year Coach Brad Underwood has put this team through, SFA knows that no other team on the court will be tougher than them. It’s that knowledge that allows the Jacks to approach games with a type of quiet cockiness and a self-contained swagger.
Stephen F. Austin is not the most athletic team in the Southland Conference. They are not the quickest in the league and they rank near the bottom as far as team height is concerned. SFA was certainly not expected to repeat as champs this year, but they did.
No team was tougher, no team played smarter, no team had the level of leadership and bonding these guys did, and that more than trumps what they may lack in athletic comparison. Indeed, the best team in the Southland Conference did win the championship and will be appearing in the NCAA Tournament as a 12 seed. SFA will play 5th seed VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) on Friday evening in San Diego in the South Region of the bracket.
No matter what happens from here on out, SFA has proven that they are champions and a class act, and it has been a joy watching them play and develop. I don’t know where the differing roads will lead these young men once they graduate from college, but given their character, optimism, and attitude they will be highly successful.
Axe ‘em, Jacks!