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Summer 2018 Wofford Today
Ryan Sawvell and parents

Going the distance

Sawvell doesn't miss the opportunity to watch his son play.

Love knows no distance, and Ray Sawvell, the father of Wofford men’s basketball player Ryan Sawvell ’17, takes that to heart.

Ryan transferred to Wofford from the University of Evansville. Through basketball careers at two colleges, Ray has been Ryan's biggest and most present fan.

“Ryan went to Europe when he was at Evansville to play five games on the Global Sports Academy Goodwill Tour, but otherwise I’ve been at pretty much every game. He’s been playing since the seventh grade, and those five games in Europe and the Furman game last year (due to weather) are the only times I’ve missed,” says Ray, who even came to games when Ryan had to sit out a year after transferring.

Ray, who lives in Mundelein, Ill., drives every time, no matter where Wofford is playing. The drive from Mundelein to Wofford's campus takes Ray between 10 and a half and 12 hours.

“I really don’t mind the drive and I don’t mind coming to South Carolina. The weather is a lot warmer here than Illinois or Indiana,” jokes Ray.

“When I went to college my dad told me he wasn’t going to miss any of my games,” Ryan says. “When I went to Evansville, it was six hours away. Distance didn’t play a factor in choosing a new school, but when I chose Wofford, I knew if anyone could do it, he could.”

Ryan still remembers the conversation he and his dad had after he committed to play for the Terriers: “On the plane back I looked at him and said ‘you know to my home games now it’s going to be a 12 hour drive and probably even further for most road games, right?’ He just nodded and said ‘yeah, that’s fine.’

This season Ray drove 20 hours from Mundelein to Ft. Myers, Fla., 1,333 miles, for the Gulf Coast Showcase. Ray then drove 29 hours, 1,995 miles, to Boulder, Colo., for the Terriers’ next game, a showdown with the Buffaloes.

Sawvell’s dedication to the Wofford team and his son are unparalleled. He knows how much his presence means to Ryan, and to him every minute in the car is worth it.

“Ryan has mentioned that he’s tickled that I come to every game,” Ray says, grinning. “He really appreciates me coming.”

“There is a certain level of reliability knowing he’s going to be in the stands,” Ryan says. “It's not something I expect him to do, but he does it anyway. I’m not sure I could ever pay him back for all the miles he’s put in.”

Ryan’s mom, Christine, doesn’t miss a home game and watches road games on the computer or listens to the radio call.

“We own our own business so we have some flexibility," says Christine, "but I do usually fly because I can’t always leave as early as Ray can.”

Basketball season is a "crazy busy" time for the Sawvell family, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It's a good busy,” Christine says. “It’s a stress relief for Ray and a break from work, so it’s nice he can get away. We figure since Ryan has put in so much time and energy with basketball that we need to be there equally to support him.”

Ryan's parents feel like he found his fit as a Wofford Terrier, and they couldn't be happier.

“It’s been a long road for Ryan, but he found home coming here,” says Christine.

 

by Hannah Bradley, media relations assistant