Chris Palmer | Atlanta, GA
Former Emmanuel College Lions Basketball Player
Written by Malik Brown
I started playing basketball when I was about seven years old, just because my older brother played. I fell in love with the game. I played football for four years, tennis a couple of years, and then baseball. I did a couple of different sports, but basketball was always my passion growing up, and I loved the competitiveness of it. I wanted to develop my game and play at the college level.
Going into my freshman year of high school, I was a 5’10 shooter, so I wasn’t a big or athletic player, but I knew I worked hard. I really wanted to put everything I could into the game. Going into my sophomore year when I grew a little bit, I just made it a priority to reach out to as many coaches as I could, probably almost 1000 colleges. I was just writing personal letters and doing everything I could from a responsible standpoint off the court, as well as training myself and just trying to become the best player, in the hopes of one day getting a scholarship.
Coming out of 2016 to now, it's gotten harder for recruiting because you have the transfer portal, and everything's going crazy because of COVID. Because of all of that I really tried. I really tried my best to be proactive and reach out to coaches and try to go to as many elite camps and clinics as I could. I just tried to stay on top of the ball and control what I could control. Luckily by my junior year, I wasn't firm on just going division one or going to a certain school, I was open to some different options. I'm thankful that I was able to get into a school that I was able to develop as a person and as a player, both on and off the court.
I didn’t know too much about Emmanuel College. My older brother played at Toccoa Falls College which is in Toccoa, Georgia, and it's about 45 minutes north of Emanuel so I think I went to go see them play. I was a sophomore in High School. First thing that stuck out to me was they had a great facility, so I looked into that. I started to do some research on it and realized that they had 10 straight years of 20 plus wins, so it was a winning program. I kept an eye on it, and then as it kind of trickled down my list of who was interested and who I was interested in, they were the ones that stuck out to me the most and fit my core values.
I went into college not knowing what to expect, specifically in the classroom. All the deadlines, and there's no one holding you accountable. It's on you. There's going to be consequences, but no one's going to hold your hand and get you through that. At the beginning, I was just focused on going to the gym every day at 6am like I was doing in high school and just working as hard as I possibly could. I think midway through the year, I was able to balance out school and basketball in a more time effective way. The people at Emanuel were great. Love my teammates. Love my coaches there. They taught me a lot. It's a school with about 1000 people in it, so everyone's pretty much an athlete and can relate to each other. The relationships I built there were nice. I would say overall, it was a good experience.
From a basketball standpoint, and a lot of people will see this when they go into college, you're not as good as you think you are. You’re playing against bigger and faster players. I think that was the first roadblock of adversity when it comes to being on the court. You have to humble yourself and find ways that you can get better and control what you can control on the court, so I would say that was the first roadblock. I would definitely say my sophomore year I had a lot going on. My dad was diagnosed with cancer that year, so in the middle of the season that was a very stressful time. Mentally, that year was a bit tough, and then just other stuff going on. It was a hard year for sure.
I didn't really know anything about mental health or battling adversity because nothing crazy had happened until some of those moments in college. I would say something that helped me during my sophomore year was taking up yoga and doing some meditation. I had no idea what to do, I was just going on YouTube and doing some random stuff that helps. I also reached out to family, friends, people that I trusted, and was able to open up to them at a level that some wouldn’t be comfortable doing. That was very important for me.
At nine-years-old, I knew I wanted to be a college coach. I wanted to get into basketball, so I actually did my first camp when I was 13 years old. I ran a basketball skills academy. I advertised and did a basketball camp, not really knowing what I was doing, so it started there. Then when I was in high school around 16 years old, I started training some kids in our organization that were younger, and I started charging $10 an hour. With that I built some clientele throughout the time I was in high school. During the summers in college, I came home and then I had some high school players that I was working with, and I believe somewhere during my sophomore year, I started working with my first overseas Pro. As time went on those high school players started playing in college, and I kept those relationships. Going straight out of that last year of Emmanuel College when I was coaching, I didn't think I would go straight into being a GA somewhere or trying to get an assistant spot somewhere, but it was the summer COVID happened. When that happened, I just went back home and I worked with all of the clients that I built relationships with. I was pretty much in the gym from 7am to 7pm doing whatever I could to help people get better. Through those relationships. I've built the passion to continue to help those people grow.
I think my purpose is to honor Jesus in everything I do. I think my purpose on this Earth is to be a light in someone's day and to help out when things aren’t going well and stay by people's side. I want to try to bring as many people up to heaven with me.
Creative Direction: Nia Symone / Tyrone McClendon
Director of Photography: Scoot Took It
GFX & Video Edits by: Ethan Garner
Story Written by: Malik Brown