Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Another special night for Kevin Ollie

One day after being honored by President Barack Obama at the White House, Kevin Ollie received another special honor Tuesday at the Aqua Turf Club.

Ollie was presented with the Saint Francis Award at the 29th annual Franciscan Sports Banquet and Silent Auction. The award is given annually to an individual who "honors Franciscan values while excelling on the playing field." The Franciscans are very near and dear to the heart of Jim Calhoun, a past Saint Francis Award winner, as well as Ollie.

"This is special," he said. "I come here every year. Just what the sisters do, the Franciscan life ... they mean so much to me. I always want to be a presence here. I thought all their prayers were all run up with Coach Calhoun, but I guess their prayers are still working. I'm glad they were praying for us and we got this fourth national championship."

Making the night even more special was the fact that Ollie was accompanied by his mother, Dorothy, who is on the road to recovery from breast cancer surgery back in March. It was only about the third time Dorothy has been out of her home since the surgery.

"She looks great," said Kevin. "That's where I get my toughness from. She had a couple of tough days, but she got through it. She's a tough lady, she's filled with faith, so it's great to have her getting back to her old self."

Last season was a tough one emotionally for Ollie. He lost his father-in-law shortly before the season began.

"It was difficult, but at the end of the day, life is not built on feelings ... it's built on principles. I made a commitment to UConn, and whatever I go through, I've got to continue to do my job. We ask our guys to do the same thing. They have a bad day, they've got to come into practice or play the right way. I try to live my life the same way. (Basketball) is kind of like my sanctuary, to get away from everything for 2-3 hours and concentrate on making them better basketball players and better people."

Ollie noted that Sam Cassell, Jr., who's been on campus for a couple of weeks now taking classes, is doing "excellent."

"He's a hard-worker, very mature kid. Loves to work, embracing coaching. From all things I've seen, on and off the court, he's gonna fit right in our program."

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