Record-Setting Performance

Isaiah Brinkley soars through the air for two of his school record 52 points in the Lazers triple overtime victory over Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Isaiah Brinkley felt his father’s presence in the Allyn Hall gymnasium on what was, to this point, the best performance of his life. “I felt like he was with me watching the game,” Brinkley said. His father, Terry Brinkley, passed away in June at the age of 52. “Everything he taught me stuck with me. He’s why I’m the player I am.” Saturday night Brinkley scored a school record 52 points in OCC’s 101-98 triple overtime victory over Fulton-Montgomery Community College. The win improved the Lazers record to 2-0 in regional play and 3-0 overall.

Isaiah Brinkley

The Lazers started the game slowly. “We were behind 12-1 in the beginning. Our coach called time out, told us it was time to focus and we worked to get back on track. From that moment I was aggressive on every play.” The sophomore point guard scored 21 points in the first half, 18 points in the 2nd half including two free throws to send the game into overtime, and 13 points in overtime including the final two points of the game. “When the game was over I was beat up physically. My teammates and coach kept me pushing.”

Brinkley played high school basketball at University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men in Rochester. He’s a Liberal Arts & Sciences: General Studies major with dreams of playing professionally overseas eventually. “It’s been my dream since I was a kid but I want to finish college first so I have a backup plan in case I get hurt.”

Wherever Brinkley goes he will carry memories of his father with him. “Every game I feel like I make him happy. I want to do the best I can and give 100% all the time.” Brinkley said he has also received inspiration from his mother, Deadraia Tisdale who was always there for him and kept him on track; Reginald Smith and Dwayne Mahoney who gave him a place to play basketball in Rochester at the Boys & Girls Club and helped him grow up as a man on and off the court; and Lazers head coach Erik Saroney and his staff who have given him the chance to play at OCC and live out his dream.

Brinkley and his teammates will look to improve their record to 4-0 Wednesday night when they host Niagara Community College at 7:30.

Learning Through Basketball – Joseph Olsen, ’04

Basketball used to be Joe Olsen’s life. When he realized it would never be his livelihood he used his playing ability to get an education and build a career as a high school teacher.

Olsen graduated from Central Square’s Paul V.Moore High School in 2001. He was the all-time leading scorer and more interested in basketball than school work. Olsen went to SUNY Potsdam and lasted less than a month. He returned to Central New York and stayed busy doing odd jobs.

In between working and playing pickup basketball games Olsen ran into a friend who recommended he contact OCC Men’s Basketball Coach Dave Pasiak about playing there. Olsen took his advice, met with Pasiak and learned he would need to take and pass four courses during the summer to become eligible. Olsen decided to go for it. “I wasn’t the most disciplined student but coach stayed on me about it and it made a difference.”

Joe Olsen scored a College record 1,493 points in his two seasons at OCC.
Joe Olsen scored a College record 1,493 points in his two seasons at OCC.

Olsen spent two years at OCC, became the College’s all-time leading scorer and matured as a student. “I credit basketball with shining a light on the importance of school work. It began with the need to stay eligible and developed to the point where I was starting to become a good student. Coach Pasiak was a huge part of my success. He always stressed to be a good person and teammate, focus on academics, work hard and everything would fall into place. He really inspired me to be a good man.”

Olsen earned a degree in Business Administration in 2004 and transferred to Daemen College.  He played basketball and continued to grow as a student but was unsure about a career path. “I had a friend who was a teacher in Syracuse who kept telling me how much he enjoyed teaching. He thought I would be a good teacher.” Around the time Olsen graduated from Daemen he made the decision to become a teacher.

Olsen got his master’s in education at SUNY Oswego and went to work teaching business classes. He spent a year at Schenectady High School, then a year at West Genesee High School. Olsen had just been hired to teach at Whitesboro High School when basketball led him back to his alma mater. During a pickup game with a current Central Square teacher Olsen learned about an opening there for a business teacher. Olsen applied, interviewed and got the job.

Five years later Olsen is teaching sports management and video design, two business classes he created at Central Square. “If someone would have told me when I was 18 I was going to be a teacher in Central Square I would have laughed in their face. Now I really see the value in it and enjoy helping young people. My goal is to prepare students for what they are going to do after high school. It’s really important.”

Olsen is continuing his education at SUNY Cortland where he is pursuing a certificate of advanced study in educational leadership. When he completes his work he’ll be ready to pursue his goal of becoming an administrator.

Head Coach Dave Pasiak (left) and Olsen in the Allyn Hall Gymnasium.
Head Coach Dave Pasiak (left) and Olsen in the Allyn Hall Gymnasium.

Olsen enjoys the opportunities to come back to OCC for alumni games and golf tournaments. “It’s great to catch up with old teammates, reflect on our time together and hear what everyone is doing now.”

Pasiak has high praise for his former player. When Olsen was inducted into the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame he referred to him as, “Not only the most outstanding player we’ve had at Onondaga but also the hardest worker and a great leader as well. He is a shining example of using the game to further himself as a person.”

“Being the all-time leading scorer here used to mean more to me than it does now,” said Olsen. “I don’t identify myself as ’Joe Olsen the basketball player’ any more. I’m proud of it but I’m more concerned with ‘Joe Olsen the teacher.’”

With his playing days behind him Olsen has become the College’s biggest cheerleader, constantly talking about the opportunities here. “I’m always promoting OCC. I had a great experience here. I can’t say enough good things about it to my students.”

Men’s Basketball Alumni Game

Former Onondaga Community College Men’s Basketball players returned to campus January 24 for the 6th annual alumni game at the SRC Arena & Events Center. More than 30 players representing the classes of 1990 through 2014 laced up their sneakers and hit the hardwood.

Men’s basketball coach Dave Pasiak enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with past players. “From my perspective, Alumni Day, and the Alumni Game, is one of the best if not the best day of the year.  Our program has always been about more than just basketball. It’s very special to catch up with so many of our former players from my era and before and see how they have become successful with their families, careers, and lives.”

Lazer Basketball Alumni Andrew Lucio (left) and Zach Loura (right) block  Joel Hughes' path to the basket.
Lazer Basketball Alumni Andrew Lucio (left) and Zach Loura (right) block Joel Hughes’ path to the basket.

Returning players echoed Pasiak’s sentiments. Jordan Barzee graduated in 2008 with a degree in Business and now works as a finance manager. “When I was here I really enjoyed it. I had a good relationship with a lot of the guys. Coach Pasiak is a class act and is a big part of the reason we came here as students and keep coming back.”

As for the game it was tightly contested throughout with the Blue Team hitting a 3-point shot at the buzzer to defeat the White Team 92-89.

Regardless of the outcome Barzee is happy to be part of the OCC basketball family. “The alumni game is great and to see all these guys you’ve hung out with over the years is great. It’s friendship for life!”