New Penn State Hoops Coach Mike Rhoades Says He’s ‘All In’ with CVC
(Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part interview with new Penn State men’s basketball head coach Mike Rhoades).
UNIVERSITY PARK — When Penn State men’s basketball head coach Mike Rhoades speaks, you can hear the passion in his voice.
The Centre County Gazette spoke with the first-year coach recently about a myriad of topics. Rhoades talked about life at the new job, the transfer portal and NIL. He also talked about his willingness to help Penn State’s Coaches vs. Cancer chapter, which has raised more than $3.6 million since its founding in 1995.
Once he was settled into his new digs at the Bryce Jordan Center, Rhoades met with the directors from CVC to discuss his involvement with them.
Rhoades said he really liked what he heard about CVC. He especially liked that CVC has a unique agreement through the American Cancer Society wherein a significant portion of the funds raised locally are granted to the Bob Perks Cancer Fund for distribution to local families that need assistance during what can be a very financially challenging time.
“Just sitting down with everybody and talking about, I felt the passion that everyone has for it,” Rhoades said. “Like everybody, we’ve all been impacted by cancer in our lives, in our families’ lives and in our friends’ lives. It’s impacted all of us in some way.”
Rhoades said he told CVC organizers that he was “all in.”
“I was like, ‘I want to be a part of this. What can I do? How can I help? What do we need to do to keep impacting people and help?’ All of us are really excited to be a part of it,” Rhoades said.
He will jump into the CVC waters with both feet as the 26th annual Coaches vs. Cancer Golf Tournament will be played at the Penn State Golf Courses on June 2.
Rhoades said he plans on attending the tournament, but will not be golfing.
“I don’t want to ruin the course with my golf swing,” Rhoades joked. “Seriously, this first year I want to make sure that I can meet everybody and spend time with everybody. I’m going to be there all day long … meeting people, shaking hands and trying to build some core relationships. I’ll let the golf up to everybody else.”
Rhoades will be formally introduced on June 1 as CVC hosts the Sponsors and Captain Reception at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
“Our whole staff will be there at the reception. Same thing — meeting everybody and letting everyone know our appreciation. Definitely … we will be a part of everything,” Rhoades said.
Because he knows friends and families who have been impacted by cancer, Rhoades said CVC is something he takes seriously.
“You never forget how it makes you feel. Not the people who have cancer or have had it. You remember how it made you feel and how it still makes you feel. That’s one side of it. The other side is that you always want to nurture and take care of people who get sick,” Rhoades said.
Ultimately, though, he said it comes down to helping.
“What can we do to help people to get through it? To me, you put your coach hat on and say ‘what’s the whole process of this? How can we impact this process in different areas? We want to do things to help people who are in need or to help people who maybe can’t help themselves at that point,” Rhoades said.
Rhoades knows that for someone who is diagnosed with cancer, it is truly a journey.
“What’s the journey? How can we help people on this journey? That’s probably the best way to put it. If it’s getting our players to go down to Hershey and visit kids at the hospital, we will do that. Maybe we can make them feel better,” Rhoades said.
The coach said he takes cancer personally. One of his friends and colleagues, VCU’s Alex Peavey, has been diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer.
“He’s on year six. It’s unbelievable. I’ve been through this process with him and his family. There are so many different turns, ups and downs of this journey. How can we help everyone on this journey? I take that a little personal,” Rhoades said.
If you haven’t registered for the golf tournament, there is still time. Visit cvcpennstate.org to register a team.
“When they told me about Coaches vs. Cancer, I told them I’m all in. Let’s take it to a whole new level. Let’s move this thing forward even more,” Rhoades said. “Let’s see what we can do.”