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Dec 12, 2019

Men’s Hoops Hosts Annual Tiger Wonderland Event

Clemson Tigers Official Athletics Site

Basketball Hosts Annual Tiger Wonderland

Clemson University men’s basketball hosted its annual Tiger Wonderland event on Thursday, Dec. 12. The team hosted over 30 area children from Clemson Community Care to make sure they had the opportunity to have a Merry Christmas.

Clemson Community Care is a local organization that provides assistance with basic needs such as food, shelter and utilities for area families in need.

For Tiger Wonderland, the organization works with the Clemson basketball office to provide a list of children, and the children’s parents provide their clothing sizes and a wish list of toys.

After an arts-and-crafts session and some holiday treats, the groups shared a meal and then proceeded to the Burton Gallery to open up presents with each member of the basketball team.

HEAD COACH BRAD BROWNELL

On the impact of Tiger Wonderland:

“I think it’s a great experience for the men’s and women’s basketball players and staff. We’re all blessed with a lot of wonderful opportunities and gifts, and to be able to spend a little time with some kids in the community who need some role models is a great opportunity for our players. We have a great time with them every year. My administrative assistant, Susan Ruark, does an unbelievable job of spearheading this. We have a great partnership with Clemson Community Care, and I think it’s a great reminder to all of us to be thankful and bestow a few blessings on others, too.”

On his players’ reactions to Tiger Wonderland:

“They like it. They have a good time with it. One of the things we really like about is that we pair a player with a child, and I think that makes it personal. So, for an hour and a half, they’re partnered up with that child, and they want to make sure they have a good time. They get to know the kids and talk with them and do arts and crafts, eat and dance together. To watch the kids open presents and just to see the joy on their faces is really good for our guys. It’s a great reminder, and I think it’s been a terrific event for many years now.”

On the importance of events like Tiger Wonderland to his program:

“As coaches, we talk to our players a lot about trying to have a full basketball experience, and we want to have a complete program. It’s not just about basketball with our players. We expect them to do well in school and graduate. We want them to understand that there’s a responsibility to give back to the community and be a great representative of Clemson. This is one of many things that our guys do in the community. Obviously, it comes at a perfect time for us: during the holidays and right toward the end of finals. I think our guys really enjoy this event about as much as anything we do, and, again, I think it’s great because they spend lots of individual, one-on-one time with kids.”

FRESHMAN GUARD • AL-AMIR DAWES

On his Tiger Wonderland experience:

“It was fantastic to see all of the kids and how they reacted to the presents that we had for them. Just to see them smile and get excited was special for me and my teammates. It was a lot of fun.”

On his favorite part of Tiger Wonderland:

“Dancing was the best part for me. Dancing’s my thing. I always dance with my teammates in the locker room and have a lot of fun making up dances, so dancing with the kids was my favorite part.”

On watching the kids react to their presents:

“It was joyful. I loved seeing how happy the kids were when they unwrapped their gifts. It was great, and I’m appreciative for having the opportunity to witness a special moment like that.”

SUSAN RUARK

On the history of Tiger Wonderland:

“Tiger Wonderland started as a ‘Shop with a Coach’ event. We wanted to do more with the community. At the time, we weren’t able to use the players to go shopping, so we took the coaches shopping. Then, as NCAA rules changed, we were able to take the players and get them involved, and we moved the event to Littlejohn Coliseum and started Tiger Wonderland. Since 2008, we’ve been doing this event. We always invite the women’s basketball team to join us. It’s a really great way to get excited about Christmas, get everyone in the spirit and get our players back in touch with the meaning of the season. It’s just a good experience for everyone.”

On seeing her hard work on Tiger Wonderland come together:

“It’s exciting. It’s a lot of work. It takes about a week and a half to get everything put together and do the shopping and gift wrapping. Once it’s done, and I see the kids come in and get excited, it makes everything worth it.”

On the relationships established through Tiger Wonderland:

“We always invite the kids to come to a game. They get a voucher to a men’s game and a women’s game, and you’ll see them, when they’re there, cheering on the players they were matched up with. The players make connections with them, and we’ve even had some players stay in touch with their kids after the fact. It’s been a nice way to give them a different kind of experience.”

On the most rewarding thing about Tiger Wonderland:

“Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces and the players’ faces is the most rewarding thing for me. Everyone is relaxed and happy, and it makes me proud that I helped make that possible.”
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