Coach Carter at Roanoke College

Coach Carter speaks at Roanoke

The Roanoke chapter recently hosted legendary basketball coach Ken Carter in partnership with Pi Lambda Phi and the university’s Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurial Innovation (CLEI). Portrayed by Samuel Jackson in the 2005 movie “Coach Carter” as a hard-nosed disciplinarian, the brothers saw the real man quite differently. The rex, Hunter Bohon said, “I liked him almost immediately.”

Leadership and Accountability: On and Off the Court

In his presentation, Coach Carter scored with hard-hitting advice about accountability, integrity, teamwork and leadership to succeed both on and off the basketball court. He spoke about how individual failures without accountability could affect the whole team, and how teamwork and leaning on each other would strengthen the team. 

The presentation was a big hit, with over 600 brothers, alumni, students, professors, and community members in attendance at the event, and all were laughing when he invited students to demonstrate their “discipline” by doing some push-ups in the auditorium.

Alumni Endowment Launched the Program and a Scholarship

The speaker series and a scholarship were established in 2014 thanks to the desire of Pilam alumni who wanted to create something exceptional for their fraternity and the student learning experience at Roanoke College. They found common ground with the CLEI who had a similar mission.

Brothers Chris Caveness ’83 (Chapter Eternal 2016) and Andy Jowdy ’82 stayed in contact after college and joined forces to, “create opportunities to expose kids to conversations about right and wrong in the context of real-life experiences.”

Fellow Pilam brothers Rob Lyon ’85, Brian McElwee ’84, Peter O’Neill, Robin Peirce ’85, and Bobby Ziogas ’82 joined the cause, and the group created the Pi Lambda Phi Fund to award two scholarships and invite a speaker to campus annually.

Caveness said, “It’s a way for us to give back to the college to celebrate the successes we’ve had. It also gives Pilam members a chance to play an active role in the creation of a speaking event, the scholarship process and general business management.” 

Pi Lam Alumni Continue to Lead the Program

Pilam alumni on the Board of the CLEI, Andy Jowdy ’82, Mark Hurley ‘85, and Joe Boucher ’87, help to select the program’s speakers. The lecture series is offered to students to provide them with “outside of the classroom” opportunities to hear from leaders who understand the critical importance of fulfilling their role as a moral and ethical compass for all individuals and embrace the position with enthusiasm and compassion. 

Past speakers have included: Abby Reiner and David Schei from the Wounded Warrior Project, retired Virginia Tech football head coach, Frank Beamer, and Nancy Agee, President and CEO of the Carilion Clinic.

Interested in arranging an Endowment?

An endowment is a great way for you to leave a legacy to your university and support your chapter. If you’d like more information, please contact the Educational Foundation.

Article written by Shawn Mahoney (Temple University, ’92)