MORAGA, Calif. -- For as long as he can remember, basketball has played a starring role in Paul McCoy's life.
His road back to health in the game he loves is well documented, with multiple knee surgeries and subsequent periods of rehab giving way to a recently completed successful final season with the Saint Mary's men's basketball team.
As the school year wound down, McCoy found himself searching for the next step. Of course, basketball would likely play a part but the importance of cultivating something other than basketball was also beginning to take hold.
Enter a well-timed phone call and an opportunity he couldn't refuse.
McCoy will travel to the Philippines on June 29 for a 15-day trip sponsored by Family Church of Praise in Tracy, Calif. The trip combines basketball with giving back, as the 10 players and five coaches on the trip will share stories of perseverance and faith on a multi-city trip that features 10 games against teams from the Philippines.
"I actually got a phone call from one of the the coaches, Carl Foster," McCoy said. "He looks over all the teams and players and said he saw my story on the Saint Mary's website about my injuries and how I've overcome the situation and started playing a little bit more. He thought it was a really inspiring story so he reached out to (Saint Mary's) Coach (Randy) Bennett."
The team will feature recently graduated players from Division I to Junior College programs who share the desire to continue their careers and give back in any small way they can. McCoy, who is a native of Portland, Ore., has stayed in Moraga after the school year to continue working out and fundraising to go on the trip. He needed to raise money to pay for travel, hotels and food and to that end, McCoy established a fund-raising website to work towards his goal.
"It'll be the total opposite of anything I've experienced or anything I'm thinking it'll be like," McCoy said. "The whole objective of this trip, for me, is to really reach out and give back to others. I've heard there's been a lot of typhoons that have hit and a lot of the facilities have been messed up and people's lives have been ruined. The bonus is playing basketball. To actually go there and speak to people and touch people's lives and give back is huge."
During his career at Saint Mary's, McCoy earned respect and admiration for his leadership in a program that puts a premium on that skill. Developing that tool came in a team-oriented atmosphere though and on this trip, McCoy will try to further develop that ability to lead in a setting that will challenge him personally to develop and grow.
And, it just might provide a blueprint for what life might hold moving forward.
"I'm the point guard on the team and Coach Foster told me I'll be speaking in front of 7,000 people," McCoy said. "I've never spoken in front of more than 17 people and I'll be in front of 7,000 talking about my story, my faith and how God has changed my life. I don't know how I'll do it yet but it'll happen and the words will flow. I think this will be a great experience, not for basketball but just to grow as a person and see what it is I am really meant to do."