Adonal Foyle ’98 Gives Homecoming Keynote Address

Alumnus Adonal Foyle ‘98 talks about his time at Colgate as a student-athlete and his life after Colgate.

Alumnus Adonal Foyle ‘98 talks about his time at Colgate as a student-athlete and his life after Colgate.

Students, professors, coaches, staff and parents packed into Colgate Memorial Chapel on Thursday, September 17 to attend Colgate’s annual Homecoming Keynote Address. This year’s address on the subject of “Living a Meaningful Life” was given by Adonal Foyle, a former professional basketball player and alumnus of the Class of 1998.

Foyle, born on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, was raised by his grandmother until the age of 15 when his adoptive parents, Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Emerita Joan Mandle and W. Bradford Wiley Professor of Economics Jay Mandle, brought him to the United States. Playing for the men’s basketball team, Foyle was the university’s all-time leading rebounder and second all-time leading scorer. In 1997, he was the eighth overall pick in the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft for the Golden State Warriors. He went on to play for the Orlando Magic and Memphis Grizzlies before moving on to a career in sports consulting. Most recently he has authored the book “Winning the Money Game” and founded the Kerosene Lamp Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging at-risk student-athletes in the U.S. and the Caribbean to pursue their academic and athletic careers.

Before Foyle took the stage, the Presidents’ Club, Colgate University’s leadership gift society which sponsored the keynote, hosted a free homecoming barbecue with music provided by the Colgate WRCU radio station. The Chair of the Presidents’ Club, Amy Everett DiSibio ’86, spoke to the crowd in the chapel, noting the organization’s history of leadership,

tradition and impact, highlighting an initiative to gain more student involvement within the Presidents’ Club.

After DiSibio’s introduction, Foyle began his address with a poem titled “Love Song to a Game,” a piece that Foyle wrote as he ended his NBA career. It was a poem that acknowledged the impact that basketball and a Colgate education has had on his life.

“There in the Chenango Valley/ where 13 sang my soul to flight/ basketball laid siege to my soul,” Foyle said.

This led Foyle to comment upon the nature of the game of basketball and the difficulties that professional athletes face in finding fulfillment. Foyle spoke about being a professional athlete and what that entails. 

“[It] requires that you start at a very young age. Often when you start you don’t have the personal experience and knowledge of how to deal with it,” Foyle said. 

Also problematic for athletes is their brief “life expectancy.” The average NBA player has a career that lasts only 4.7 years. This fleeting taste of the fulfillment of a highly competitive and rewarding job means that retired athletes often face many challenges afterwards, including depression and bipolar disorder, the loss of a sense of purpose, marital troubles and chemical

dependencies, such as addiction to alcohol and other drugs. 

“The problem of combining the duality between sports and academics represents the single most difficult thing for young people and for all of us. It’s important to create balance,” Foyle said.

That balance is something that Foyle said he found present in the nature of Colgate.

“It was remarkable because I knew the moment that I got here that I was going to [be] treated as a student first and an athlete second, and there was something comforting in that,” Foyle said.

He recounted arriving at Colgate early in the morning after an away game and having a 20-page paper due a few hours later. 

“My professor didn’t say ‘Great game! That 20-point game was strong!’ They were like, ‘Where’s my paper?’” Foyle said.

Foyle discussed how Colgate is remarkable for its supportive community and the loyalty of its alumni.

As an alumnus, Foyle had several pieces of advice for students.

“Long johns!… I wish somebody had told me don’t be afraid to wear really great long johns,” Foyle joked.

More seriously, he urged students to read assigned books over summer break, start taking an interest in their finances, begin making meaningful connections with professors and alumni and find a purpose in life beyond money.

Earlier in the day, Foyle appeared at the Democracy Matters Brown Bag called

“Democracy for Sale: Money and Politics in the 2016 Election.” Foyle founded Democracy Matters, an organization that tries to limit the influence of money in politics, in 2001. He also made an appearance at the Alumni Association’s tent at Saturday’s football game.

The crowd’s reaction to the address was extremely positive. Junior Alessandra Devia called the event “absolutely amazing.”

“[It taught me to] go after what you want and not worry about where you’re going to end up in the future,” Devia said.

DiSibio, who spent a year helping to plan the event, was also pleased with the night’s outcome.

“I thought [Foyle] was terrific… I think he sent a really great message on lots of levels… I’m proud. I’m proud to be a Colgate alum today,” DiSibio said.