Springfield College, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Beta Sigma Boulé hosted the second annual Education and Leadership Luncheon at Springfield College on Friday, September 8, featuring Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2017 inductees Rebecca Lobo and Mannie Jackson.
As part of the 2017 Enshrinement Weekend, at the luncheon, local high school students are rewarded for their perseverance and excellence. Students and local business leaders had the opportunity to celebrate their achievements and hear from inspiring Hall of Famers.
The focus of the luncheon partnership is to inspire and reward the perseverance and excellence of city youth through one of Springfield’s greatest contributions to the world, the game of basketball.
"This is one of my favorite partnerships because it links together individuals and organizations that share the same vision," said Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper. "Spirit, Mind, Body, leadership, service, giving back to the community, all of the things we value at Springfield College. It's really a pleasure to be a part of this, and I know this will continue to be a significant event moving forward."
Brooks Fitch, Committee Chairman of the Springfield Chapter of Beta Sigma Boule added, “We were so pleased with our inaugural event last year and the support shown by the Western Massachusetts community. We hope to build on this momentum with Springfield College and the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017, as we continue to celebrate the excellence of our local youth.”Jackson was a former star player for the Harlem Globetrotters. After his playing career, Jackson purchased the Globetrotters in 1993, saving it from near extinction.
A native of Western Mass., Lobo was born in Southwick. She was a member of the undefeated 1995 Connecticut Huskies NCAA National Championship team that went 35-0 on the season, reaching basketball perfection.
That same year, she was named the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player, AP Female Athlete of the Year, and the recipient of the Wade Trophy and Naismith Award. She also was named the WBCA National Player of the Year and USBWA National Player of the Year, Kodak First Team All-America, BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year, and GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team.
Lobo went on to be a part of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, ultimately winning a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Etched into the fabric of the WNBA from its very start, Lobo’s career spanned six years from 1997-2003. She eventually went on to become an analyst for ESPN where she currently covers the WNBA and women’s college basketball.
Jackson was owner and CEO from 1993-2007, making him the first African American owner of a major international sports and entertainment franchise. Under his leadership, the Harlem Globetrotters saw record attendance and revenue growth.
Giving back to the basketball community has been at the helm of who Jackson is as he served as the Chairman of the Board for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame from 2007-2009. He is the namesake of the Hall of Fame’s award, the Mannie Jackson Basketball’s Human Spirit Award, given out annually at the Family Reunion and Awards Dinner as part of the Enshrinement festivities.