Emmanuel Chibuogwu Scores Points on and off the Court

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SAMIRA SHOBEIRI • THE SPECTATOR

As he walked into a Subway fast food restaurant, Emmanuel Chibuogwu noticed a face he used to see daily, years before this afternoon. The familiar face no longer belonged to the boy he used to play basketball with, amongst other activities at the YMCA one summer, but to a grown man.

SAMIRA SHOBEIRI • THE SPECTATOR
SAMIRA SHOBEIRI • THE SPECTATOR

Emmanuel Chibuogwu, a senior forward for Seattle University’s men’s basketball team

Now a foward for the Seattle University men’s basketball Chibuogwu himself volunteers at the YMCA to get kids exposed to various environments by playing different sports.

The boy Chibuogwu would rebound for, and looked up to, during basketball games at the YMCA summer activities was now standing in front of him, fully grown.

Instantly, there was an exchange of conversation and smiles from both parties. Excited to see Chibuogwu, he bombarded him with questions asking for his number and potentially tickets to see him play.

Towards the end of 2016, Chibougwu was nominated for the 2017 Allstate NABC Good Works Team. This prestigious honor is awarded to student-athletes with outstanding community service achievements.

“I like helping out in the community, it’s not something I take for granted,” Chibougwu said. “I know as a kid having just anybody come talk to me or act like they cared meant a lot. So, hopefully I have the same effect on those kids.”

This year there were 181 nominees from around the nation. Five players from Division I and another five from Divisions II and III, including NAIA, will be given this award. Award recipients will be announced in February.

Chibougwu is involved in the community in a number of ways and has shown dedication and leadership in multiple projects. To mention a few, he’s spoken to students at the Healthy Redhawks grade-school program, has coached fifth-and-sixth graders at a local youth basketball league and has volunteered at the Seattle U Red Tie Celebration.

As a kid, Chibougwu, along with a childhood friend, was a ballboy for the University of Washington Men’s Basketball Team. Ballboys and girls help decrease wasted time by running on court to deliver a job. So if a basketball player falls during a game, a ballboy rushes to mop the sweat off. “After the game they [UW players] would come and say ‘what’s up,’ and that just meant the world to us because they noticed us,” Chibougwu said.

Watching these student-athletes play was beyond Chibougwu’s imagination. For him, the players were superheroes. This set the scene for his future of volunteering, as he wanted to reciprocate the affect the UW players had on him — the feeling that what you do is appreciated.

His volunteering took off in high school, where Chibougwu was required to perform a certain number of hours of community service, but he noticed that once he completed these hours, he craved further community involvement. It became a habit to volunteer his time. So when the Seattle U Men’s Basketball team gets an opportunity to volunteer, Chibougwu doesn’t shy away.

“You always have to be selfless. There aren’t many things in life that is solely about you. All your decisions are going to affect somebody else,” Chibougwu said. “That’s how I try to go about life, about community service, try to impact the most people I can in a positive way.”

Once he graduates with a degree in marketing and minors in economics and psychology, Chibougwu wants to play basketball as long as he can. He’s also curious to see in what other ways he can make an impact in the world, maybe as a speaker or working with kids.

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot in my life, and I’m young so that sounds crazy, but I’ve been in a lot of situations,” Chibougwu said. “So to help people who are younger than me or help anybody so that they don’t have to go through what I went through, they can kind of skip the whole process, why not?”

It’s meaningful when organizations recognize you for the community service achievements you’ve performed, but it doesn’t compare to the lifelong impact that oftentimes goes unnoticed, even from the person delivering it.

“You don’t realize how much impact you have on [kids] until you sit back and think about it,” Chibuogwu said. “So whether one day I just gave a kid a dollar or something, to me that means nothing, I just gave them a dollar, but to them that means the world.”

Yesenia may be reached at
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