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Hancock College student athletes build bond that will outlast collegiate careers
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Hancock College student athletes build bond that will outlast collegiate careers

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Attending a community college isn't always easy.

Attending a community college away from your hometown or state is especially not easy. And going to a JC while also playing a highly-competitive sport is even more difficult.

But, most Hancock College athletes find ways to make it work. 

The men's basketball roster is usually made up of out-of-area players. Kyle Harding, Hancock's point guard who has signed with Fresno State, came to Santa Maria all the way from Long Island, New York. There's Xavier Cooper from Denver and a handful of players from the Los Angeles area and the Central Valley.

Hancock's football team has players from 14 different states, plus American Samoa. Players come from Hawaii, Alaska, North Carolina and Georgia, among others, to play football at Hancock. 

So how do these guys last two or sometimes three years in Santa Maria, away from their friends and family?

Well, they make new friends pretty quickly. They have to.

Interacting with the basketball or football players on a Zoom session or Twitter, it becomes clear lots of these guys have built a support system with other athletes attending Hancock.

When Mike Mensah, a Bulldog basketball player, announced he was committed to play for Maryland Eastern Shore, a DI program, Hancock football players flocked to his Twitter page to congratulate him. 

The same happens when a Hancock football player announces an offer or commitment. 

But the players' bond is even more apparent within their own teams.

Last week, when Harding, Mayowa Akinsanya and DJ Searcy were the stars of a Zoom meeting to celebrate their signing with four-year universities to play basketball, about 30 people jumped in on the session.

There were school faculty members, coaches and more than a dozen teammates each taking the time to personally congratulate all three of the signees. 

Multiple players told each other they loved each other and that they were proud of them. 

There was this exchange:

"I love you guys, you guys know it," head coach Tyson Aye said. 

"Love you too, coach," Harding, Akinsanya and Searcy all said in unison. 

Three Bulldogs sign with four-year schools: Hancock's Searcy, Harding and Akinsanya to play basketball at next level

"I love you, too," Mensah, who was on the call, butted in.

"I'm gonna miss going to war with y'all," point guard Grant Johnson told his former teammates. "It's not even about basketball, man. Our kids are going to be friends with each other. It's just a brotherhood forever. I love you all and I can't wait to see you guys do great things in the future." 

Of course, it's not always rainbows and butterflies. There will be arguments and sometimes fights, but in a time where most of us have felt disconnected and stressed, seeing these players - from different cities, different backgrounds - was a sight for sore eyes.

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