Team celebrates Thanksgiving in the Coaches Court

Jerry Slocum, head men’s basketball coach at Youngstown State University, will be catering to his players that cannot make it home for the holiday with his annual team Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.

Each year, Slocum and his wife invite the team to their home for a Thanksgiving dinner that includes two turkeys, several pies and the traditional sides.

“Historically, Thanksgiving has been kind of an unique situation for us,” Slocum said. “The last three or four years, she has found out everyone’s favorite pie and made everyone a pie.”

But this year there is a twist.

Because of a busy schedule this week, the Penguins will flock to the Coaches Court in Beeghly Center.

The Penguins travel to Pennsylvania State University on Wednesday and won’t be back until late that night. Another road trip to Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pa., is required for Saturday’s game. This means that the team will be practicing on Thanksgiving Day.

“After practice, we are going to have all the basketball players, all of our families, wife and kids will be there,” Slocum said.

Sophomore Josh Chojnacki, from Erie, Pa., will spend his Thanksgiving with the team for the first time.

“We don’t have to bring anything because the coach is having it all catered, which is really nice,” Chojnacki said. “I was supposed to go home, but I am staying here now because of the dinner.”

Freshman Fletcher Larson, a New York native, will eat dinner with the team and then spend time with his family who is coming to visit him in Youngstown.

Assistant coach Byron Thorne said he usually visits his in-laws in Erie.

“Because of the schedule and practice, we thought [it would be] a good thing to do it on campus this year,” he said.  

Thorne will be attending the dinner with his wife and their son.

The dinner will begin around 5 p.m., and there will be enough turkey and stuffing for everyone — plus leftovers for the team.

“For us, it is a special time of year because during Thanksgiving, you are usually with your family, but we just think it’s important that the guys are together,” Thorne said. “Since they can’t go home, we’re their family.”

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