Antonio Marshall in action as coach and mentor at Olivet's Little Tigers/Advanced Training II Basketball Camp (June 16-19, 2014)
Author: Destiny Mitchell (junior, Chicago Heights, Illinois); reprinted with permission from The GlimmerGlass
Posted: Thursday, July 03, 2014 at 2:05 PM
Antonio’s skills on the court and his sturdy knowledge in the sport of basketball were some of the reasons Head Coach Ralph Hodge chose him to train other students.
A former Olivet point guard has kept his passion for basketball and remains active with students even after getting his diploma.
Antonio Marshall ’13 — now the graduate assistant for Olivet’s Tiger men’s basketball program — mentors basketball students in what he calls “man on fire training.”
Many who know of it speculate about the origin of the name. “Since the day I was born, I’ve been struggling. I was born a sinner,” Antonio says. “I had a fire inside of myself for sin, and the Lord replaced that with a passion for the Holy Spirit. [Now,] I’m a man who is lighting myself on fire for the world.”
The name also spawns, in part, from Antonio’s survival skills. He has survived three house fires. The most recent fire occurred in June 2012. He awoke that night to his mother yelling “fire,” upon which the family evacuated the house and watched it burn down.
Antonio first got involved as a trainer after Coach Ralph Hodge, head coach for Tiger men’s basketball, set him up with two students to mentor in 2012. After that, news of his training got around via word-of-mouth.
Antonio’s skills on the court and his sturdy knowledge in the sport of basketball were some of the reasons Coach Hodge chose him to train other students. “As a player and an athlete, he is one of the top players I’ve ever had in over 35 years in this position,” Coach Hodge says.
Antonio doesn’t train with the mindset to teach only the ins and outs of basketball; he trains to build relationships. “I mentor to be a part of [other peoples’] lives,” he says. “I have a passion and a desire for basketball that [made] me want to give back.”
Mainly, he trains in McHie Arena or Birchard Gymnasium. “I’m glad that I have a place and that ONU has made these spaces available to me,” he says.
When school is not in session, Antonio likes to keep himself available to members of the local community — not just as a mentor and a trainer, but also as a friend.
“There was one student who would have a couple of friends over, and he actually texted me to come [to his home]. We just hung out together and played basketball, and I really enjoy being able to do that,” Antonio says.
So far, Coach Hodge has heard positive feedback about Marshall’s mentoring. “I was recruiting another player at one of the local high schools, and one dad of a player sought me out,” Coach Hodge explains. “He said, ‘I really appreciate you sending Antonio our way because it has worked out great.’
“Not just from a basketball standpoint, but just the motivation, [we appreciate] the enthusiastic approach he has in working with kids and helping them build up their skills.”
Coach Hodge, too, sees beyond the student-mentor roles Antonio has established. “I think this mission of Antonio’s goes beyond basketball,” he adds. “It’s there to help kids in all areas. Whether it’s home problems or whatever situation they may be in, he wants to help them with their basketball journey. But he also wants to help them with some life skills and some other more important things than just basketball.”