Men's Basketball: The "Gentle Giant" leads by example, on and off the court
Published: Friday, February 21, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014 01:02
At nine years old, Chris Pelcher had a dream to be a basketball player. Now, 14 years later, Pelcher is living out his dream as a Div. I college basketball player for the University of New Hampshire.
Pelcher, No. 44, currently plays center for the Wildcats. But before transferring to UNH he spent his first two years playing college basketball for Iona, a close-to-home private college in New Rochelle, N.Y., 147 miles south of Albany, N.Y. where Pelcher grew up.
During his time at Iona, the team experienced three head coaching changes over five years. The inconsistency of game plans, offensive mindsets, and other variables took away from Pelcher’s potential as a player. It became more inevitable for Pelcher to look elsewhere for his remaining future in college basketball.
Right out of high school, the Wildcats pushed heavily to recruit Pelcher but were denied. However, after being notified of Pelcher’s desire to transfer two years later, UNH men’s basketball associate head coach Ken Dempsey decided to give the 6’10”, 240 lbs. Pelcher a call.
“Coach Demps gave me a call one day and asked for me to come up for a visit of the campus,” Pelcher said. “When I came up for the visit, I really liked the school, saw a great education opportunity and the coaching staff’s great passion for the game, so I decided to commit.”
UNH men’s basketball head coach Bill Herrion saw a great addition to his team when Pelcher decided to commit. In the past two years of coaching Pelcher, Herrion has nothing but praise for Pelcher, whom he calls, “the gentle giant.”
“He has been such a great addition to our basketball team on and off the court,” Herrion said. “He has really good skill, which he proved last year on the offensive floor for us. Chris is just a really good kid, he is going to graduate with a degree and definitely has a chance after college to continue his basketball career if he decides to.”
“If you put your mind to it, you can do it.” Those are the words that Pelcher lives by, and were the words of his high school coach Brian Frucio, who saw Pelcher’s potential to play at a very high level. Along with the motivation from his high school coach, Pelcher received most of his motivation from his family, crediting his mother and sister for their support in following his dream.
Pelcher was an athletic kid who played a wide range of sports like football, lacrosse, baseball and track and field, before finding his love for basketball.
“It was my dream to play Div. I college basketball and it was in my junior year of high school that I knew it was coming true,” Pelcher said. “At the time I was receiving a lot of football letters, but I knew that basketball is where I wanted to be. My father passed away when I was only two, so it was my mom and sister that were always there to support me when I was down. I’d say they are the ones who motivate me the most.”
For any college athlete, the lifestyle is much different than a typical college student who normally goes from class to dorm life. For athletes, they have to work around class, as well as their sport schedule, which leaves managing time as being the biggest challenge for Pelcher’s lifestyle as a student-athlete.
“My schedule is crazy and sometimes overwhelming,” Pelcher said. “You have to manage your time well. The average day for me is usually going for treatment, class, to practice, to more treatment and then homework. Some days you wake up at seven in the morning to head out to the bus for away games, and those days turn in 12-hour days. It is just a schedule that takes time to adjust to.”
Even though Pelcher has succeeded as a Wildcat over these past two years, he was limited on the court due to two serious injuries. The first injury took place towards the end of the first season when Pelcher separated his shoulder, sidelining him for several games. Pelcher battled a leg injury this season causing him to miss 12 games.