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One More Shot: Galal Cancer ’15 Provides Veteran Leadership at Kent State

College sports provide a unique and unforgettable experience for student-athletes, as nothing compares to competing for your town, student body, university, and the letters written on the front of your jersey. However, this treasured time is typically limited to a maximum of just four years, yet some athletes are given the opportunity of extending their collegiate careers with an additional year of eligibility. Former Cornell basketball player, Galal Cancer, earned this chance after missing his junior year due to injury and will be suiting up for the Kent State Golden Flashes this upcoming season.

Cancer, a 2015 Big Red grad, is now pursuing a graduate degree in Sports Management and Recreation at Kent State. He notes that while his new curriculum includes a lot more reading than his undergraduate studies did, he feels that Cornell greatly prepared him for the new challenges with which he is presented. In order to help transition himself into this new environment, he spent eight weeks in Kent, Ohio over the summer gearing up for both the new academic and athletic years. Cancer referenced this period as essential for making him feel comfortable with this transition into a new world.

Aside from the different academic setting, Cancer will find himself in an unfamiliar basketball environment. Now playing for the defending regular season MAC Conference champions, Cancer and his teammates have set their sights even higher — they want to win the conference tournament title and reach the coveted NCAA Tournament. While the team has a proud history of postseason accomplishments, it hasn’t made the big dance since 2008, a fact that Cancer and his teammates are eager to change.

Cancer noted that one of the biggest disappointments of his time at Cornell was that the team never reached the NCAA Tournament despite an abundance of talent. Now, Cancer believes he can provide the veteran presence that will push the Golden Flashes to the next level. He will focus on being a vocal leader in the locker room and imparting on his teammates the importance of earning their victories and playing hard, lessons he learned from Coach Courtney with the Big Red.

In addition to looking forward to the upcoming season, Cancer also reflected on his time playing for Cornell and his impressions of this year’s team. He expressed some disappointment that the squads he played for at Cornell never reached their full potential. Although each team had the skills to keep up with the competition, it never resulted in the level of success that he and his teammates had hoped for. Individually, Cancer noted that he could have been more aggressive during his seasons as an underclassman, but was hindered by the big learning curve that came with playing collegiate basketball.

Regarding the team he leaves behind, Cancer says the group has a lot of potential. He mentioned that he still keeps in touch regularly with members of the Big Red squad including Robert Hatter and Pat Smith. He keeps urging them to step up as team leaders and to push their teammates to be ready for when their moment comes. While Cancer expressed his excitement for the next chapter in his playing career, he was adamant that his experience at Cornell, with its incredible players, coaching staff, and fans, “truly shaped [him] as a person.”

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