Georgia Highlands celebrated a season of success for the basketball team Wednesday, where the team, the coaching staff, current and former employees at Highlands and fans alike looked back on the Chargers' run at the NJCAA National Championship.
College president Dr. Donald Green, athletic director and head coach Phil Gaffney and assistant athletic director David Mathis spoke at the celebration, recognizing each individual member of the Chargers' squad as well as supporters.
Green spoke about attributes Highlands players exhibited during the run at a national championship and used words like accountability, humility, gratitude and passion to describe the Chargers.
"Winning isn't on that board," Green said. "Winning is a product of those words."
Green recounted the many conversation he had with different people at the national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, and said he was honored to have the Chargers represent not just GHC, but the state of Georgia as well.
Highlands finished 30-8 on the season and fell one game shy of the nation championship, losing to eventual champion NW Florida State in overtime.
And while Gaffney jokingly blamed his coaching for the team's loss in the Final Four, the Highlands' head coach did remind the audience that if not for the support of the staff, the administration and the fans, the Chargers' would not have had their success.
"Look at all the wonderful people that came to games day in and day out. They watched us, they went to the viewing parties so that's what it is; it's an appreciation of the coaches … but also back to the fans and our players," he said. "People have been so kind to us. They (the players) already know how much they're loved and respected but now they're really happy for it."
Although Highlands didn't come away with the ultimate goal of a national championship, the Chargers did come away with some mementos of their trip through the tournament.
For one, The Rome City Commission and the Floyd County Board of Commissioners named April 15, 2015, "Georgia Highlands College Day." The players, staff, and coaches — including eight-year-old Daniel Veillon, who has been battling brain cancer since last August and was an honorary coach this season — received plaques and medallions for reaching the Final Four.
Gaffney also showed a video of what he said is now known on campus as "the shot," of Montrel Goldston hitting a 3-pointer at the end of GHC's win over Southern Idaho in the second round of the tournament.
"It's amazing that everyone's showing support," Chargers' guard Ty Toney said. "They watched us when we went to Kansas, so it makes us feel really good."