UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball officially kicked off its annual Coaches vs. Cancer - Penn State Golf Tournament Thursday evening, opening the weekend with a Sponsor/Captain Reception at the Hawbaker Pavilion.
Head coach Patrick Chambers and former standout Nittany Lion and current New Orleans Pelican Tim Frazier both took time to meet with members of the media ahead of the festivities.
Pairing up with the Penn State Coaches vs. Cancer chapter for its 21st consecutive season, the annual event is a tradition that Chambers holds especially close, proudly adding on to an already impactful legacy in each passing year.
"I'm especially proud of this year and what the committee has done and the sponsors and the volunteers, because last year was such a big year, the 20-year mark - you kind of think we're going to dip off and I don't really see that," Chambers said. "As a matter of fact, I think we're going to surpass $3 million."
Having raised more than $2.7 million to date, the CVC-Penn State chapter stands as one of the most successful fundraising chapters, but more than dollars and cents, Chambers tied this year's event, which happens to also kick off on the day of his 10th wedding anniversary, to gratitude.
"We have pillars of excellence and it's my fifth pillar, gratitude, and it's just something where I want to find joy in this," Chambers said. "We've had some tough stretches but I think you have to go through those tough stretches to get where you want to go."
Perhaps no better representation of gratitude and perseverance in the presence of challenges is Frazier, a two-time All-Big Ten selection who earned two degrees from Penn State and went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft before finally re-signing with the Pelicans in late July 2016 after originally being signed for the remainder of the 2015-16 at the end of March 2016.
"His journey getting to the NBA was not easy," Chambers said. "A lot of no's, a lot of 10-day contracts, a lot of we're not going to re-sign you, to trade, then back to the D-league, then going with New Orleans to finish the season and getting a deal."
Much like Penn State's newest mantra to #ClimbWithUs, Frazier has already been on the climb for quite some time. Through the ups and downs and the grind of uncertainty, Frazier has maintained a level head, ultimately focused on achieving his lifelong dream, having already battled through injuries and adversity during his time in the Blue and White.
"Just like coach said, there are going to be obstacles in the way but you have to continue to push through it and I was able to do that and look at me now, I know people would not have thought that when I was 145 pounds when I came to Penn State I'd be playing for the Pelicans," Frazier said.
In 65 games with New Orleans in 2016-17, Frazier averaged 7.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game, but he's not finished. With work to be done in all areas and plans to get bigger and stronger, Frazier will continue on the climb, working toward securing another contract to further his NBA dream.
For now though, Frazier is embracing a bit of what Chambers is currently trying to teach his young group, that's loaded with some already proven potential headed into the 2017-18 season.
"I think in college I was so set on, I want to make it to the NBA, I want to make it to the NBA and now I'm going to enjoy it, enjoy every piece, never take a day for granted and I try to do that every day," Frazier said. "In every workout, every day just reading, beating people, what can you say, I'm in the best game there is in the world there is right now. I'm just taking in everything in and one day at a time."
In his first time back on campus, Frazier is looking forward to meeting and spending time with Penn State's newest Nittany Lions, sharing a little piece of his side of the story.
Approximately 300 golfers and 60 groups are set to tee off beginning at 7 a.m. Friday morning in the Penn State Golf Tournament concluding with an awards dinner in Beaver Stadium's Mount Nittany Club.