September 16, 2010

Walk-Ons Bring Tons to the Team

By Student Assistant Carolyn Linck, '11

Not every player on the Santa Clara University basketball team can hit the winning shot, be the leading scorer or start every game.  In fact, some of the Broncos may not see much playing time in the 2010-11 season, but that does not mean they aren't valuable assets to the developing Bronco basketball program. Indeed, the walk-ons play an important, though often overlooked, role for Santa Clara basketball.

"My role is to make guys better everyday in practice, to make sure everyone is motivated and working hard," said freshman walk-on Beau Gamble

Taking advice from his summer roommate and fellow walk-on, sophomore Kyle Perricone, Gamble has focused on improving his play and maintaining a good attitude in his time so far at SCU.  Gamble is on the left in the photo and Perricone is to the right.

"The biggest advice I have given Beau is just to always stay positive. The season – and offseason – are definitely a grind.  There are days where you just feel unmotivated and discouraged, but it's how you respond to these days that is key," said Perricone.  "Our coaches always say that the only two things you can control on the court and in life are your attitude and effort, and that's what I told Beau to focus on doing."

Bronco Head Coach Kerry Keating feels the walk-ons are an important element needed on the team.

"We are happy we have a walk-on from each class on our roster. They are always a valuable part of our team from our daily to game preparation.  Like their teammates, they are very competitive and driven to do well," said Keating.  "The walk-ons are respected members of the squad. It's hard to be a walk-on because sometimes more is excepted of you, with less return, but we hope their biggest return is being a part of something special with a great team and a great group of guys."

Perricone appreciates the regard Keating has for walk-ons saying, "One of the best things about playing for Coach Keating is that he treats walk-ons with the same respect as scholarship players. I have friends playing at other D1 schools and from what I hear my experience is quite different from theirs. I guess that's just a testament to Coach Keating's character." 

In addition, it's encouraging to Gamble and Perricone to know that walk-ons have succeeded in the past under Keating, including current senior Michael Santos.  Santos, who walked on as a freshman in 2007, earned a scholarship and a starting position on the team by his sophomore year.  Gamble and Perricone both say they view Santos as an example of how hard work and dedication can pay off at Santa Clara.

"Santos is a great role model for me," said Gamble. "Seeing how far he has come and how successful he's been as a walk-on is definitely encouraging to me. It motivates me to work harder to become the best student athlete I can be during my time at SCU."

Perricone agrees, saying, "What Santos has done shows that dedication really pays off. Mike is one of the hardest working guys on the team, and I know that if I follow his work ethic my chance will come too."

Perricone and Gamble will open the season with the rest of the Broncos on Friday, November 5, in an exhibition game against CSU Maritime in the Leavey Center.