Fans welcomed back the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles to campus from their
triumphant journey on Saturday.
The FGCU men's basketball team, who lost to the Florida Gators 62-50 on Friday after
making history by advancing to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament,
returned to Alico Arena at about 4:30 p.m. to a gathering of more than 100 fans.
Many local TV news affiliates attended the event and swarmed the newly-famous
Eagles as they returned home.
The Eagles made history last weekend by becoming the first 15-seed to ever make
it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Senior Sherwood Brown, who
sparked two Eagles' wins with his inspiring play, was candid about his thoughts
on the team's experiences.
"I'm proud of the rest of the team. We did a lot of things people didn't think
we could do," Brown said. "I think we made a big difference in the community and
for the basketball team."
Brown was still in shock about how much attention the Eagles received during the
"It feels good, it's like a dream come true."
Danielle Butler, an FGCU graduate and former student-athlete, attended one of
their tournament games in Philadelphia and came to the welcome-home gathering.
She thought the basketball team made a great impression on the nation.
"This was a great thing for our school," Butler said. "The team put (FGCU) on
the map. I'm very proud to be an athlete of this school and I hope their trip
inspired a lot of young people to not give up on their dreams."
Josiah Mendez, a member of FGCU's "Dirty Birds" student fan club, led the crowd
in a chant of "welcome home" as the team got off the bus.
Brown savored the moment, as he played his final game as an Eagle this weekend.
He signed autographs, posed for dozens of pictures and shook hands with every
"I'm surprised that they all showed up, but it proves they weren't just here
because we were in the tournament," Brown said. "It proves they were here
because they really cared about us."
Brown believes the team will be in capable hands going into next year.
"It's always upsetting to know that you're not going to be playing basketball in
college no more, but we're going to be a good team down the road," he said.
When questioned about his future plans, Brown was adamant about his hope to
continue his playing career.
"Everyone who plays basketball would like to play in the NBA, but if not I'd
like to play overseas somewhere," he said. "I had a lot of people contact me.
We'll see what happens next."
Brown, who, like the rest of the team, has not been home much the last couple
weeks, put their whole experience in perspective when asked what he'd be doing
the rest of the day.
"Going to relax and take a couple days off, recuperate a little bit. Maybe catch
up with some schoolwork."