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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Martelli speaks at event for community youth

Martelli, on the right side of the screen, answer a student’s question over zoom after his speech. PHOTOS: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

On Sept. 18, Siloam Wellness Center, a non-profit institution that promotes mental, physical and spiritual well-being for people living with HIV/AIDS in the Philadelphia area, presented an event titled “Full Court Press for Awareness.”  

Hosted at the Salvation Army Camden Kroc Center, the event featured students ranging from elementary school to college age competing in 3-point shooting contests. Additionally, speakers from a wide variety of athletic backgrounds addressed various wellness topics and issues. 

Former St. Joe’s men’s basketball head coach, Phil Martelli, was a speaker at the event. His brother, Steven, has been HIV positive for over 30 years. 

Sarina DiBianca, executive director at Siloam, said Martelli has the biggest heart of anyone she’s ever met. 

“His message has always been ‘what do you need, how can I help and how can I serve?’” DiBianca said.

Martelli spoke to the audience over Zoom and issued a challenge for the youth in attendance. 

“I’m going to ask you to spend this day and try to learn,” Martelli said. “Then I want you to teach on your street, teach in your home, teach in your school and teach in your church. Get engaged in your local community.”

A former player of Martelli’s spoke at the event as well. Jumaine Jones, though not a St. Joe’s Hawk, played for Martelli as a collegiate player at the 1998 Goodwill Games.  

Jones speaks to students about his journey to becoming an NBA player before the three-point contest. PHOTOS: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Jones said the Cocoa, Florida neighborhood he grew up in didn’t have any role models for its youth, so it’s important for him to be involved in the community.

“The game of basketball has been so good to me,” Jones said. “But I try to use the game of basketball as a platform to bring awareness to so many other things going on in this world.”

Jones operates a foundation called Beyond the Hardwood, which teaches kids about career opportunities that exist within the game of basketball other than that of a player.

“If you love the game so much, there’s jobs surrounding it,” Jones said. “I try to bring awareness to that so kids don’t go into a depression stage if [being a player] doesn’t work out.”

Tony Vlahovic, a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, spoke about the importance of inclusion.

“People in your school that have a physical or mental disability…[they] want to play ball just as much as you do,” Valhovic said. 

Vlahovic played an integral role in bringing baseball to the Special Olympics, an organization dedicated to inclusion and diversity in Olympic-style sports for children and adults with disabilities. He said his experiences as a teenager led him to create more opportunities for people with disabilities.

A student shoots a three pointer during the age nine to age 11 group at the start of the contest. PHOTOS: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Inclusion not only extends to people with disabilities, but underrepresented groups in athletic communities. Former WNBA players Tanae Davis-Cain and LaToya Bond spoke about their experiences as women in basketball.

According to Bond, it’s important for women who have had success in sports to give back to the next generation of women athletes. 

“Now they have an opportunity to see women be in a position that they want to be in instead of always looking up to the men,” Bond said.

Tony Coleman, an NBA scout, stressed the importance of crafting a positive image on social media. 

“I’ve seen student athletes lose scholarships because college coaches saw what is on their social media accounts,” Coleman said. “It’s very important to brand yourself the right way.”

According to Coleman, events like Siloam’s are integral to the development of the community’s youth.

“It helps [them] stay focused and stay on the right path so [they] can reach full potential,” Coleman said. “It’s super important to pour into [the youth].”

Before Martelli logged off of the Zoom call, the former St. Joe’s basketball coach was the one to place a badge of honor on every youth in attendance.   

“Don’t think that you don’t matter,” Martelli said to the audience. “You’re in a special place doing special things. That makes you a hero.”

Martelli is being honored at Siloam’s 25th anniversary on Oct. 10. More info can be found on

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