Growing up, we all were taught that “the older we get the more we will mature and grow.” This was normally a life lesson, but could the same also be applied to an athlete?
When the new head men’s basketball coach went recruiting, he wanted to get the best players he could.
He sought the talents of an older point guard named Chris Raybon. He is a 31-year-old who still loves playing basketball.
Raybon is the youngest of three children. Growing up in Winnfield, Louisiana, he made a name for himself back home. His talent and love for the game resulted in being a three-time recipient of the all-district MVP for basketball.
Just like any other athlete growing up, Raybon had the dream of attending a division one college right out of high school. But his dreams did not go according to plan. After he graduated high school, his parents left him and his two older brothers alone in the family home. When his parents divorced, Raybon struggled in coping.
“I was devastated,” Raybon said.
Since he was now on his own, it was very difficult for Raybon to attend college. He moved around a lot, between Louisiana, Maryland and Indiana. He did odd jobs to support himself, but he never forgot about his dream of playing college basketball.
Raybon landed in Oceanside four years ago. He attended Maricoast Junior College, where he knew the head basketball coach.
Raybon doubted his skills due to his age. “I can’t play anymore, I’m too old. They just won’t [let me play],”
But his dream of playing basketball won out and he began to play.
In his first season he received all conference honors and in his sophomore year his coach at Maricoast suggested Raybon meet Coach Soliday, who preceded to give him a scholarship.
“I didn’t think there would be an [age] barrier because I have a young personality about myself. My friends accept me for who I am,” Raybon said. Upon first coming to Vanguard, he fell in love with basketball again.
“The coaches at VU are great. They make basketball so fun,” Raybon said. “It was like a job at one point, and when it’s like that, you don’t want to do it anymore.”
As a student, he is currently studying business and may go into finance. His post-basketball dreams include opening his own business or restaurant back home in Louisiana.
Raybon has big hopes for bringing Vanguard back to the top of the GSAC conference. He ideally would like to play professional basketball overseas in either Brazil or Spain. Off the court, he is just like any other typical college student, even though he is much older then the rest of his teammates and friends. He enjoys video games, movies, and bowling.
“I’m a very active person, I’m constantly doing something,” Raybon said.
As a child, Raybon looked up to his mom, calling her his hero.
“Every day she told me to never give up. Stay focused on God. Anything can happen,” Raybon said. “I’m a total momma’s boy. She did anything for us.”
At Vanguard, he lives in a world completely different then where he grew up. He often thinks back to his days in Winnfield and it burdens him.
“They went down the wrong path. It feels weird to go back because a lot of them are still doing the same thing as when I left,” Raybon said. “My friends here have a passion for life.”
When Raybon thinks about basketball, he remembers where his has come from and how happy he is to be at Vanguard. This fits right in line with his life motto of “Live every day like it’s your last.”
Raybon takes this same approach to life both on the basketball and off. His favorite bonding activity so far was the team going skinny dipping before the season. But in his eyes, its not all fun and games. He came here to play basketball and wants to win games.
“It’s all up to us and how hard we work,” Raybon said.
The team looks to improve on its disappointing recent years and Raybon wants to help lead a revival of men’s basketball here at Vanguard.