A mom is always a mom, even when her baby goes off to college to play basketball.
When asked whose support helped them the most growing up, most athletes name mom as number one. Standing behind most great players is a supportive mom, and the Villanova Men’s Basketball players are no exception. At least six Villanova moms traveled from Philadelphia, New Jersey, Maryland, and even Texas to spend the Thanksgiving holiday watching their sons play at the Battle 4 Atlantis, a college basketball tournament in the Bahamas.
Villanova is one of only two teams that had previously earned two Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis championship titles; the other is Baylor. The tournament started in 2011, and Villanova won the title in 2013 and 2017. This year, Villanova dominated Texas Tech in round one, winning 85 to 69, and they squeaked out an overtime victory against University of North Carolina with an 83-81 win in round two. However, in the third and final game, Villanova overpowered Memphis, taking an early lead and never losing it. They won 79-63 with almost three-fourths of the 1,200 fans on their feet cheering.
Villanova is now the only team to claim three Battle 4 Atlantis championship titles. In all three games, the Wildcat fans outnumbered their opponents by four to one. Chants of “let’s go Nova” and “Nova Nation” filled the arena throughout the games.
I met several of the moms who traveled to watch their sons play. They were all visibly excited ahead of the first game and thrilled to be able to support their sons in the tournament. Many were joined by the players’ siblings and fathers and were making a vacation out of the trip.
Justin Moore, #5, a guard from Maryland is a graduate student. His mom, Kelly, traveled from Ft. Washington, Maryland to watch her son play. She said that she’s happy he is back after an Achilles tendon injury. He worked hard to get himself back to playing. “Justin is a leader on the team. He is a warrior and has demonstrated perseverance in recovering from his injury to get back on the court.” Clearly, he has recovered from his injury as he scored 45 points over the three games.
Mark Armstrong, #2, a guard and sophomore from South Orange, New Jersey, had his mom, Vivian, his dad, Mark, and his sister, Sierra, in the crowd to cheer him on. Vivian said that Mark has been playing ball since he was six years old. “He’s a magnetic player and the glue that holds everyone together. He is a leader on the court.” She attends all his home games and traveled from New Jersey for the tournament. Mark scored 28 points throughout the tournament.
Hakin Hart, #13, a graduate student from Philadelphia, is a guard and an “amazing player,” according to his mom, Syrita. “Known as the silent assassin, Hakin was always quiet all through high school, but not on the court.” She was excited to watch him play over the Thanksgiving holiday. Hakin scored seventeen points in the three games.
Brendan Hausen, #1, is a sophomore guard from Amarillo, Texas. His mom, Stephanie traveled the furthest from Texas to the Bahamas. Stephanie describes Brendan as “the Texas sharpshooter who is known as the Amarillo assassin.” Brendan scored eight points against Texas Tech in the first game and had a total of fourteen throughout the series.
The Villanova mom community is a “tight knit group” according to Jake Whitten, marketing director for the men’s basketball team. “We have a mom brunch every year for moms with current students and those with alumni.” There was an alumni event during the tournament with 500 attendees. Those fans were apparent in the crowd as they overshadowed the competition in support and cheers.
While the players earned their victory, I am certain that the support of alumni, friends, and family, especially those overzealous moms, didn’t hurt. The crowd was deafening at their three games, and the audience was decked out in Nova gear and signs. As the fans filed out of the stadium, they continued to chant “Nova Nation,” and their joy over the victory carried them throughout the resort.
While the moms were thrilled about their sons’ and the team’s victory, the players were equally excited about the opportunity for their moms. These young men realize how much their moms and the rest of their family do for them. At the press conference after the first game, when asked how he felt about having his mom at the game, Justin Moore said, “I am happy that she is here and gets to have a vacation.”
Beth Ann Rosica was on vacation with her family during the tournament and wrote this story. Broad + Liberty did not finance the trip.