Cardinal basketball team poses after the game with Coffield Unit inmate team
Cardinal basketball team poses after the game with Coffield Unit inmate team

The morning of Dec. 7, 2018 started out like many days for the Trinity Valley Cardinal basketball team; loading a bus to travel together. However, this trip took them to a different type of basketball court.

Just before 10 a.m., the bus arrived at the H.H. Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, one of the largest maximum-security prisons in the state of Texas. The Coffield Unit houses more than 4,000 male inmates, on a 20,000-acre piece of property.

The look of anxiety was evident on the players' faces, as they left their belongings on the bus and went through airport-type security to enter the unit. They were greeted by prison officials, allowed to ask questions, and then toured the unit before they enjoyed their pre-game meal in the officer's dining room. Following a meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn and bread prepared by inmates, they faced off in a half-court game with the Coffield inmates as their opponents.

"This experience has become one of the highlights every year for our men's basketball team," said Head Coach Guy Furr. "These student-athletes are able to get a first-hand look at prison life, which is an eye-opening experience to say the least. It's also a highlight for the inmates, as well, because they get to enjoy a really unique experience playing against college athletes for an afternoon."

The inmate team came out on top in a close contest, 43-37.

TVCC's Associate Vice President of Correctional Education, Dr. Sam Hurley, arranged the visit and the game for the Cardinals. TVCC has had a close partnership with TDCJ, providing prison education for inmates since 1969. The academic and workforce education programs assist inmates in acquiring job skills to achieve success on the outside, greatly reducing recidivism.