Dec. 5, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Marcell Haywood is a man on a mission. His road to success was never laid out for him while he was growing up. Fortunately, it is now being paved by his hard work and determination. As a transfer student from Queens College in Charlotte, N.C., he is in his third and final year of eligibility as a member of the Seminole men’s basketball team. During the final six games of the 2001-02 season, Haywood materialized into the primary back-up point guard to Florida State graduate Delvon Arrington. Last year, he played in a career-high 25 games, while playing in the final 20 games of the season including both of the Seminoles’ games in the ACC Tournament.
The past is gone with the wind and now Haywood focuses on the ever-clear future he controls as a member of the newly rejuvenated Florida State men’s basketball team. The biggest change came at the top with the hiring of Leonard Hamilton as the Seminoles’ head coach. The highly respected Hamilton was hired on March 18, 2002 to help return the Florida State men’s basketball program to the upper echelon of the college basketball world.
Hamilton wasted no time in establishing his system with a strong mix of returning players and athletes from his first Seminole recruiting class.
“The biggest difference is intensity,” said Haywood. “We are going to have a dog-eat-dog attitude and defensively we are going to play hard. We’re going to have that intensity throughout the season. It’s a great attitude that Coach Hamilton and his staff have definitely brought to the team.”
With his role on the team changing under Hamilton, Haywood seems to relish his new responsibilities, a new identity and a new relationship with the coach he would rather call a friend.
“I have a great relationship with Coach Hamilton,” said Haywood. “Being one of the oldest members of the team, he’s just real with me. He comes to me and we sit down and talk. We don’t just talk about basketball, we talk about life, and we talk about life after basketball. I respect Coach Hamilton so much as a mentor, even more than a basketball coach.”
Haywood feels he is relied upon to be a stable leader to the younger guys on the team. On the other hand, he still understands how much he must rely on his teammates to lead him thorough adversity.
“I’d say all of us are leaders,” said Haywood. “We all lead each other, we all help each other and we all coach each other. We don’t have a defined set of leaders but everyday someone else steps up and takes a leadership role,” said Haywood.
The chemistry between teammates is also blooming. Haywood and the other members of the team room with each other for the first time. He feels their living arrangements have definitely increased team unity.
“M roommates are Nate Johnson and Benson Callier. I love them to death,” said Haywood. “Just to have teammates around the house I can talk about practice and about plays – it helps bring us together.”
Even though Haywood has been through many obstacles growing up, he’s always had somebody to relate to, as he does now with the teammates and coach. In order to stay out of trouble and off the streets, Haywood began playing sports and decided to focus on basketball. Thanks to the Big Brother Foundation, Haywood was appointed a big brother, Calvin, who grew up on the streets while living in and out of detention centers. With Calvin’s help, Haywood made changes in his life and progressed to the point where he began to help younger kids make good choices.
“Calvin showed me sports was the right way, so I looked up to him a lot,” said Haywood. “He was definitely a good influence on my life. As I got a little older, I began to look up to my uncle, Irving Kiffin.”
Kiffin played in the NBA for the Lakers before finishing his career with the San Antonio Spurs where he played alongside George Gervin.
“Mentally, Irving taught me a lot of things about how to persevere and overcome adversity,” said Haywood. He had a fall from greatness. He’s been to the top and made some mistakes. New, he’s trying to make it so I won’t make some of the same mistakes. That’s something I definitely respect him for.”
Haywood now looks to his parents as his role models. He understands the sacrifices they have made in order to provide him with the opportunity to follow his dreams and someday make his own living.
“If I don’t have the opportunity to play basketball at the next level then I’m interested in web-site design. Right now, that’s my major,” said Haywood. I’m in graduate school for information studies with a concentration in information technology.”
As a student of the game throughout the majority of his life, Haywood describes basketball as “a great teacher of life.” In the near future he will use his life management skills to implement them into his career, whether it is in web-design or starting up his own business.
“There are no excuses on the basketball court and in life nobody wants to hear excuses,” said Haywood. “You just have to get the job done. The commitment and work ethic it takes to be a good basketball player carries over to life. I would not trade my experiences with basketball for anything in the world.”
Haywood defines the meaning of life as doing whatever it takes to make you happy, and for Haywood, basketball equals happiness. In this case, Haywood has basketball to thank for keeping him out of trouble and leading him in the right direction as he has grown from a young man into a man. Now, basketball has taught him the skills he needs to become his own man and launch his own career. With the help of a new coach and mentor, Leonard Hamilton, the sky is the limit for Haywood’s final basketball season and as he ventures into the reality of life after college basketball.
by Angel Maldonado
Sports Information Student Assistant