Fewer minutes doesn’t mean lack of effort, desire or passion

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A walk-on’s perspective of college basketball

Brad Curnow | Sports Writer | @JoJoCornrow

Gabi Campbell | Photo editor | @gabicampbellphotos

Fans all know the players that see the majority of the minutes.  They know the stars and the scholarship players. The ones that fans don’t always see are working just as hard and going through the same rigorous routine as the scholarship players. They are the walk-ons and non-scholarship athletes. These players are still paying for school while practicing and traveling with the team. The Utah Valley University men’s basketball team has one such player in senior guard Cory Cardwell.

After marrying former Wolverines women’s basketball player, Alle Cardwell (Finch), Cory decided to attend UVU and make an attempt at getting back on the court. Cardwell tried out for the men’s basketball team two seasons ago and earned an invite to play by former UVU Head Coach Dick Hunsaker.GabiCampbell-MBB12-30-14-8-1024x681

Even though he doesn’t see much playing time, Cory says he’s happy to be part of the team. “I’ve always loved basketball,” Cardwell said. “So it’s just fun for to me to come out and play.” His love for basketball and motivation to win keep him working hard alongside his teammates. “I just want to win,” Cardwell said.  “I want to win a WAC Championship. I want to win the tournament and make it to the Big Dance.”

Spending more time on the bench than the hardwood can be wearing on a player. The mental toll can break a player down and make playing time difficult when it does come. Cory says he works to combat this mindset.

“[I] work hard on my game everyday,” Cardwell explained. “I stay prepared mentally and physically, so when I do eventually get called I’m ready to play and help the team.”

Cardwell was offered basketball scholarships out of high school to junior colleges, Western Wyoming and College of Eastern Utah. After the head coach at Eastern Utah passed away, Cory said the opportunity to play there went with him.

Rather than continue to pursue the junior college route, Cardwell got married and came to UVU with his wife, where she played basketball at the time. Cory says his wife’s love of basketball is encouraging and keeps him playing through college.

“She loves the game as much as I do,” Cardwell said. “I definitely wouldn’t be playing if she wasn’t behind me motivating me.”

For a role player, the changing of head coaches can be discouraging as the player might not know if he is welcome back by the incoming coach.  There is no fear in Cardwell as he is looking forward to his senior season with UVU and playing for new head coach Mark Pope.

“I love the style that Coach Pope brings.”

With the roster that Coach Pope has assembled, it may be another season of limited minutes for Cory, but he says he wants to help the team improve any way possible.

“Helping the team get better is what I’m here for and what I like to do.”

Whether it’s as a starter or reserve, players want to hold onto the opportunity to play as long as they can because they never know when it will go away.

“I just love to play,” Cardwell says. “I’m just glad I’m playing and have the opportunity to be playing as long as I have been in college. Not a lot of people get the opportunity to play.”

Cory Cardwell may not play the big minutes for the Wolverines, but he gives all he can to help his teammates that do. That’s part of life for a lot of walk-ons.