Thursday, August 10, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is teaming up in a big way with Beta Sigma Boulé (chapter) of the Sigma Pi Phi fraternity and Springfield College to present the second annual Education and Leadership Luncheon to inspire and celebrate local area youth. The press conference announcing the second annual collaboration will be held at Springfield College on Aug. 10 at 9 a.m.

Coming off the success of last year’s luncheon featuring Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, this year’s luncheon will be held on Sept. 8 at Springfield College in the Cleveland E. and Phyllis B. Dodge Room in the Flynn Campus Union from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The students will have the experience to ask questions and engage with representatives of Springfield College, Beta Sigma Boulé, Hall of Famers and community leaders.

“We are so thrilled to host this event at Springfield College for the second year in a row,” said President of Springfield College, Mary-Beth Cooper, Ph.D.

Two of this year’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductees, Rebecca Lobo and Mannie Jackson, will be the featured guests for the event, an important and educational part of the Enshrinement festivities. The event will also feature past Hall of Famers who will share encouragement and inspiration with local youth in a small group environment.

The event is open to the public. Tickets are $75. Those who wish to purchase tickets should call Khalil Content at the Basketball Hall of Fame at (413) 231-5528 for more information.

The focus of the luncheon partnership is to inspire and reward the perseverance, excellence, and greatness of local youth through one of Springfield’s greatest contributions to the world, the game of basketball. Last year, Hall of Fame President and CEO John Doleva expressed his hope that the luncheon would become an annual event. A year later, this collaborative effort doubles down on each partner’s commitment to Western, Mass. area youth.

“We were so pleased with our inaugural event and the support shown by the Western Mass. community,” said Brooks Fitch, chairman, Education and Leadership Luncheon. “We hope to build on this momentum with the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017, as we continue to celebrate the excellence of our local youth.”

Fifty Springfield and Amherst area high school students will be in attendance. The criteria to be selected was based on grade point average, perseverance and character. The students were chosen to participate in the luncheon by their respective school officials.

Over four years ago, Doleva and Fitch began talking about collaborating on a project that would impact the lives of inner-city youth in Western Mass. “We wanted to do something that is engaging yet, inspiring and provided an experience to look at greatness,” said Fitch.

That led to the Education and Leadership Luncheon.

“It’s the triangle,” said Doleva, referencing Springfield College’s mission to educate students in “spirit, mind and body.”  He added, “It occurred to me that good things happen in threes and that is the Hall of Fame, that’s Springfield College, and that’s especially Beta Sigma Boulé.”

Rebecca Lobo and Mannie Jackson, will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 8 at Springfield Symphony Hall.

A native of Western Mass., Lobo was born in Hartford, CT and raised in Southwick, Ma. She was a member of the undefeated 1995 Connecticut Huskies NCAA National Championship team that went 35-0 on the season, reaching basketball perfection.

That same year, she was named the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player, AP Female Athlete of the Year, and the recipient of the Wade Trophy and Naismith Award. She also was named the WBCA National Player of the Year and USBWA National Player of the Year, Kodak First Team All-America, BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year, and GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team.

Lobo went on to be a part of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, ultimately winning a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Etched into the fabric of the WNBA from its very start, Lobo’s career spanned six years from 1997-2003. She eventually went on to become an analyst for ESPN where she currently covers the WNBA and women’s college basketball.  

Mannie Jackson, was a former star player for the Harlem Globetrotters. After his playing career, Jackson purchased the Globetrotters in 1993, saving it from near extinction.

Jackson was owner and CEO from 1993-2007, making him the first African American owner of a major international sports and entertainment franchise. Under his leadership, the Harlem Globetrotters saw record attendance and revenue growth.

Giving back to the basketball community has been at the helm of who Jackson is as he served as the Chairman of the Board for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame from 2007-2009. He is the namesake of the Hall of Fame’s award, the Mannie Jackson Basketball’s Human Spirit Award, given out annually to those who have used the game of basketball and its platform to give back to their community through education, health, and community outreach. Given out annually at the Family Reunion Dinner as part of the Enshrinement Festivities, the award recipients embody the spirit of giving back to one’s community and providing a symbol of hope and empowerment to those around them. 



The Springfield chapter of Beta Sigma Boulé was founded June 24, 1983 under the leadership of Grand Sire Archon Robert V. Franklin. Its formation bound African American men of similar qualities together into a fraternal union. Since its formation, Beta Sigma Boulé has devoted itself to uplifting the local community by sponsoring a number of events including A Better Chance Amherst, Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Services, and Brothers United to Inspire Lifestyle Development (B.U.I.L.D).



The location in which basketball was founded, Springfield College has been a cornerstone of the community in Springfield. Springfield College has long standing roots in the local community and continues to give back by hosting the annual Hoophall classic, Relay for Life, and other community events in the greater Springfield area.



The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has a strong commitment to celebrate and preserve the game of basketball. The Hall of Fame continues to be one of the city’s top attractions. Its devotion to the Springfield community is reflective in its relationship with local schools and the greater Western, Mass. community.