During spring break at the University of Richmond, while his classmates were frolicking in Cancun or relaxing at home with their families, Kevin Anderson, ’11, was stuck on campus. But he wasn't complaining.

A few days earlier, conference coaches had named Anderson, a junior guard on the Spiders basketball team, as Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. The team had come off its regular season with a 24-7 record, the best in school history. And before sitting down to talk to a reporter, Anderson and his teammates had received a special treat –– a massage to loosen them up for the upcoming A-10 tournament in Atlantic City.

Successful play in the A-10 tournament meant a No. 7 seed for the Spiders in the 2010 NCAA Division I tournament, where they lost a well-fought first-round battle against St. Mary's. It was the team's first NCAA appearance since 2004.

During spring break, while Anderson was enjoying some rare down time, he reflected on life as a star student athlete at the the University of Richmond.

“With that award, you feel like you have to do so much more,” Anderson said of being named A-10 Player of the Year. “You don’t want to let the coaches who selected you down, you don’t want to let your teammates down. I worked hard to get to this point –– I can’t stop working now.”

Anderson has been working hard since arriving on campus three years ago from Atlanta. A standout basketball player in high school at both Whitefield Academy and Peachtree Ridge, he quickly learned the extent to which student athletes are immersed in their sport.

“People think it’s so easy [to be a student athlete], that we get extra benefits,” said Anderson, who is a marketing major. “Here, it’s a lot harder. I wish I had the amount of time that everybody else does to get a project done … Time is very precious as a student athlete.”

It’s especially challenging when the team is on the road and players have to miss classes and make up work, he said. “I like meeting with teachers so that they can get to know me so they know I’m working hard in their classroom.” 

Anderson considers himself lucky to play basketball at an academically competitive university. “When Richmond came along it was my highest offer basketball wise and it was a great academic school,” he said. “Part of being successful in life is you have to have a good degree.”

The basketball team is on campus year-round. During the academic year the players’ longest break comes in December, when they get three days off to visit their families. In the summer, players get just two or three weeks at home.

“The toughest thing is not being able to see your family as much as any regular student would,” he said. “But that’s just part of it. …You want to be here as much as possible off season because that’s where you really work hard.”

The team’s record this year proves they’ve put in the sweat equity needed to succeed. In Anderson’s first year with the Spiders the team finished 16-15 and often the Robins Center was less than half full during their games. Not so this year.

“Seeing the 9,000 fans that were here for the George Washington game was unbelievable,” he said. “…When everyone is standing up and clapping for us it really helps us on the court. Their energy sparks energy in us.”

The team’s success has also helped foster a new closeness amongst its members, Anderson said. “We are all like a family now, we are all there for each other…. I really care for each and every one of the guys on the team.”

He has also noticed a change in the way the team is received when it is out in public. “They see us in our Richmond hoodies and we get a new kind of respect,” he said. “We embrace it and like it, but with that comes responsibility. We have to work that much harder on the court.”

Anderson is up for the challenge, no matter what the rest of his basketball career brings.

“I’m just going to keep working hard, doing what I do that got me here,” he says. “… I want to give it my all in school, and in basketball.”