For Treadwell Lewis, a senior shooting guard for Robert Morris University, it’s all about passion.
“Whatever you have a passion for, whatever you dream about, you just have to really pursue that with everything you have. Don’t let fear hold you back,” Lewis said.
“You’re going to have some failures, but you just have to keep going.”
Lewis, who is nearing the end of his collegiate career, believes that passion is the driving force behind everything that is accomplished in life, and without devotion toward the game of basketball, he may have never had the opportunity to take the court as a Robert Morris Colonial.
Road to RMU
Upon graduating from Christian Heritage High School in Trumbull, Connecticut, Lewis initially planned to attend Boston University as a walk-on but changed his mind after BU head coach Dennis Wolff was let go.
Because his heart was set on playing NCAA Division I basketball, he declined scholarship offers from Division II and Division III programs and attended prep school at Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts for a year, hoping other opportunities would present themselves.
It was there that Lewis was coached by Chris Sparks, who had prior served as an assistant at Penn under Glen Miller, where RMU skipper Andy Toole played his college basketball.
Sparks eventually talked then-RMU assistant coach Toole into watching Lewis play, and as a result, he was offered a tryout with the Colonials.
“(A spot on the team) wasn’t guaranteed, that’s for sure. (Former RMU coach) Mike Rice basically told me that any day I could be gone, so if I had a bad day, I didn’t know if I would be back. It was nerve racking at times,” he said. “It’s been a long road, but it’s definitely worked out.”
Because he doesn’t receive an athletic scholarship from the university, the three-time member of the Northeast Conference Winter Academic Honor Roll said he spent three to five hours per day training over the summer months in hopes of improving his game.
“What drove me to keep training was my dream to play basketball,” said Lewis, who is a business administration major with a concentration in finance. “For me, there was no stopping. I just had to keep going until I couldn’t play anymore or until I reached my goal.”
Although he’s not a leader on the court, Toole said Lewis’s importance to the program is without equal.
“He’s an invaluable piece to our program. From his knowledge of what we’re trying to accomplish, and the passion he brings to the game, to his ability to be a great teammate, I think he approaches the game the right way,” the third year head coach said. “He provides a great example to the rest of the guys on the team.”
Despite receiving limited playing time, the Connecticut-native made it his top priority to help the squad anyway he can.
“We can't have an efficient practice without Treadwell. He works harder than anyone else,” said Karvel Anderson, Lewis’s teammate. “Even though he doesn't play a lot, he brings as much to the table as everyone else does and his importance to the team to me personally is on the level of Velton.”
Lewis, who has appeared in 18 career contests over the course of his tenure at RMU, rarely gets an opportunity to take the court during the game, but when he does, the Charles L. Sewall Center echoes with fans chanting his name.
Off the court, Lewis is a former member of the Student Athlete Advisory Council and leads Bible study for Chi Alpha, the campus ministry.
“Treadwell's participation at Chi Alpha the past three years is just what any organization on campus might hope for,” said Pastor Wayne Jackson, Chi Alpha’s director. “His enthusiasm, commitment and leadership is a wonderful example to incoming students on the importance of friendship, faith and finding time to make the college experience a 'well-rounded' one.”
Toole believes that Lewis will be successful in whatever endeavors he pursues.
“The respect level he’s earned in the four years here from his teammates is something that’s been incredible and I think it’s just a tribute to him as a person,” he said. “A lot of the things that Treadwell brings to the table everyday leads me to believe that he’s going to be an extremely successful person in whatever he chooses to do with the remainder of his life.”
Lewis said the tight-knit bond he’s formed with teammates kept him at RMU, despite considering a transfer to a different program, where he could receive more playing time on the court.
“What kept me here were the friends that I have on the team that I’m close with, and the opportunities that I’ve had here. I like the people here, I like the courses that I’m studying, and overall it’s been very enjoyable,” he added. “It’s something I wouldn’t trade to play a few more minutes somewhere else by any stretch of the imagination. I have a lot of pride in being here at Robert Morris and I’ve really enjoyed it over the past four years.”
Nick Buzzelli is a student at Robert Morris University.