When Sam Vincent, the former Michigan State Spartan and NBA Player, took the head coaching job at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida, one thing was on his mind: Do the right thing. Vincent has had an incredible career that spans over decades. The former round 1 draft pick of the Boston Celtics has turned his attention to giving back to the sport he loves.
(Coach Sam Vincent is excited about the opportunity to coach his son and for Beacon College as they enter their first season of competition in the USCAA Athletic Conference.)
Basketball holds significant meaning in our country. From its humble beginnings in Springfield, Massachusetts, the sport has become global, boasting some of the most polarizing figures in the world, including LeBron James, Seth Curry, Michael Jordan, the late Kobe Bryant, and many others. Vincent believes every talented kid should be given a shot, and that’s where our story begins.
Vincent has a son, Jordique Vincent. At first glance, Jordique appears completely typical. There’s nothing visibly different about him, especially on the basketball court. However, Jordique has faced many challenges to get where he is. He suffers from ADD, a condition that has affected him since childhood. After years of going undiagnosed, doctors finally identified Jordique’s ADD, a condition that affects millions of Americans, though many cases remain undiagnosed. Jordique struggled academically, not due to any lack of effort, but because his ADD often hindered his performance.
(Jordique Vincent who is coach Sam Vincent’s son, has ADD which made it often difficult for him to study. Beacon College has been a huge help in assisting him through his college career while affording him the opportunity to continue playing the game he loves.)
Jordique has always been athletically gifted. There’s no doubt about his physical prowess. Watching him in practice the other day, it was evident he could easily compete at an NCAA level school without any issues. However, like every young student-athlete at Beacon College, Jordique required assistance with his academics.
Beacon College stands true to its name, serving as a beacon of hope for these youngsters. Each student has a diagnosed neurodiverse issue, which can range from ADD and ADHD to autism and more. Beacon College offers these students an opportunity to succeed, ensuring they stay on track, whereas, at state colleges or universities, they might fall behind. Beacon College is committed to making certain no student is left behind.
To this end, Beacon College ensures that freshman and sophomore students meet once a week with a student Learning Specialist. These specialists work diligently to make sure the students remain on track with their coursework. Such a support system is often absent in major universities or colleges, where students are sometimes expected to learn in large classes, often with over 100 participants.
(Coach Sam Vincent with the words “Work Ethic” on the back of his shirt coaches the team through the first few practices. He was very excited about what he saw for the potential of the program.)
Securing time with professors is challenging at state schools. However, Beacon College emphasizes small class sizes, enabling students to learn at a pace tailored to their needs. This unique approach is what sets Beacon College apart. The institution is one of only two neurodiverse schools in the entire USA, the other being Landmark College in Vermont. Landmark College primarily focuses on students with dyslexia, ADHD, or specific learning disabilities.
Coach Sam Vincent accepted the position to give back to these young individuals. He’s also enthusiastic about the prospect of coaching his son for the first time in his career. “It’s exciting! I’ve never had the opportunity before,” Vincent remarked. “For me, it’s a proud moment. It’s also a way of giving back to the game I cherish. I aim to demonstrate that these students might have missed out on competitive opportunities in high school or college due to learning disabilities. I want to emphasize that learning differently doesn’t diminish one’s worth as a person. In fact, in many instances, we can learn invaluable lessons from these young individuals.”
(Coach Sam Vincent talks to his group of players after the just the second day of practice with words of encouragement.)
Vincent also said that he is excited at the possibility these kids have in the new USCAA conference that Beacon College joined this year. “Now we will be competing for a real championship trophy every year. Playing against tougher competition and putting Beacon College on the map finally.” I asked coach Vincent what would define a successful first year in the USCAA conference, and he said, “Winning games. I just want to go out there and be competitive. I want these kids to understand that this [is] a brotherhood. We are here to give them every opportunity to succeed. My goal is to one day send kids off to bigger schools and afford them NCAA division 1 opportunities if they so choose that path,” Vincent said.
(Jake Borowski was excited about putting Beacon College on the map as they join the USCAA for athletics. He was part of the teams club basketball team the past few years and will now be part of a true sports team who will contend for a championship.)
Some of the players have been with the program for years, including Jake Borowski. “Each kid on the team is unique. We have all had challenges learning, be it finding time to study, taking tests, or staying focused; we all have something in common. But that has allowed the team to bond as well.” Jake went on to say, “A few years ago, we were just a club sport, but over the past few years, it has grown. The USCAA conference will allow Beacon College to be put on the map. If you go out in the community and you ask someone about Beacon College, I guarantee almost everyone has never heard about it. This will help change that, and hopefully, what we are building will have profound impacts on the years to come,” said Borowski.
(Coach Sam Vincent looks on as his team runs practice plays for the upcoming season.)
As we stood there with the team, I could feel the excitement as this team is the first to take a big leap into a highly competitive landscape. Beacon College sits in the center of Downtown Leesburg. In many ways, the college helps support the local businesses that are part of Downtown. This is a significant deal as the college continues to grow.
Recently, the college completed a new campus dorm; they have big plans for an athletics facility, including a gym and an on-campus training facility for student-athletes. Most of the sports have been club sports, but Beacon hopes to grow these sports just like the basketball programs, which include the Lady Blazers. The women’s team will also compete in the USCAA this season, and we are just as excited about that. Head coach Brandon Raines is in his first year as the women’s head coach and is the Beacon College Assistant Athletics Director.
(The first ever team photo of the Beacon College Blazers boys basketball team that will compete in the USCAA. Not all players on the team were present, but this is a huge moment for these kids, coaches and the college!)
For Sam Vincent, this is just another step in his illustrious career. We love to see Coach Vincent giving back to the community. Beacon College has been looking for a coach like this for a long time. Vincent believes in the school; he believes in the programs offered, and he believes it’s the right fit for his son.
We wish the Beacon College Blazers the best of luck in their inaugural 2023 USCAA Conference Athletics Seasons, and we hope they can win a few games! The first-ever game in the USCAA will be on October 28th at Trinity Baptist in Jacksonville, Florida. The first-ever home game will be played on November 14th against Atlantis at 7 pm at 2605 South Street in Leesburg, Florida! Go Blazers!