College basketball hall of famer Homer Drew coaching for a cause in TBT 2020

 

By: Savannah Deuer


Legendary coach Homer Drew will lead Team Heartfire this summer

Not too long ago, point guard Brandon Wood had never heard of the term HeartFire. And he wasn’t alone. Many basketball players around the world had not heard of the organization, and some weren’t sure about the mission. 

And then legendary Valparaiso coach Homer Drew made a few phone calls. Drew was originally planning on entering Team HeartFire in TBT 2019 as the head coach, but due to medical concerns involving his wife, the team’s entrance was delayed by a year. 

But HeartFire is so much more than a TBT team. The Christian organization, founded in 2006, is based around global medical, surgical, and humanitarian relief. The organization trains young people on medical skills and takes mission trips throughout the world. The skills are put to use to help save lives where medical care is lacking. 

Homer Drew was introduced to HeartFire GM Jeff Dyer through his brother, Mark, who is involved with TBT mainstay Team 23. When told about the organization, Coach Drew instantly became interested and invested in the mission. 

 

“He really wanted to name the team HeartFire because it’s the perfect name,” said Dyer. “He wants to have players who have both heart and fire.”

“I’m honored to be able to bring attention to HeartFire and their mission,” added Wood. “Their values align with who I am as a man, to make a difference and spread the mission.”

And HeartFire is honored to be represented by both incredible players and Hall of Fame head coach Homer Drew. Drew retired from basketball in 2011, with 640 career wins after coaching at Washington State, Louisiana State University, Bethel College, Indiana - South Bend, and Valparaiso. He has the sixth most wins among Division 1 coaches, and was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019. 

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On the court, HeartFire has talented players coming from across the country to play for one cause: helping those who need it. 

With the help of Drew’s son, Scott, who is the current head coach at Baylor University, a connection was established between HeartFire and former Bears stars. This connection led to four former Bears, including standouts such as Isaiah Austin and Quincy Miller, playing for HeartFire. Michigan State alums Brandon Wood and Branden Dawson bring standout shooting and athleticism to the team as well. 

While head coach Homer Drew certainly has talented players on his roster, Dyer says the focal point of HeartFire’s success will come from the coach’s leadership.

“Homer is an incredible person. No one is as humble or has as big of a heart as Homer,” said Dyer. “He’s going to mold these guys into a family in a matter of days.”

From a player standpoint, Wood echoed those same feelings of admiration for his former head coach. 

 

“This is more of a basketball experience,” said Wood. “To get to see my old coach again from my playing days at Valparaiso, that’s incredible.”

HeartFire is the 14th-seed in this year’s bracket and will face off against the 19th-ranked Men of Mackey, a Purdue alumni team. 

“We’re really excited to get to play basketball again,” said Wood. “And to help spread awareness of HeartFire and help people along the way means everything.”