Tommie Pride in Africa

Tommie Pride in Africa

Former Tommie Danny Lawson donates retired STU jerseys to local soccer players in Malawi

Danny Lawson left a part of himself—and the Tommies—in Malawi, Africa.

Lawson, who attended St. Thomas from 1995-1997, had visited the Ngoni tribe of Malawi once before, and knowing the generosity and need of the people there, he wanted to do something for them.

Many of the youth in the area play soccer, but their teams can't afford jerseys. As a former men's basketball Tommie, Lawson knows the pride that comes from having your own number and looking like a team, so he decided to take action.

"We were thinking about where we could get jerseys, and I was talking with Fred Connors and he said he could ask Mike Eagles, the university's Athletic Director," Lawson said. "It turned out they had more jerseys than we could take. Luckily, the biggest amount of jerseys they had were soccer jerseys but some basketball jerseys went over too."

The basketball jerseys that made the trip were from the years Lawson was playing, which he said was special.

"Thinking about how much blood, sweat, and tears I poured into one of those jerseys and then to take them there and tell them I wore one was great," he said.

"The look on their faces when we took them the jerseys said how happy and appreciative they were. They told us looking good would help them play well, and they did look sharp in those Tommies jerseys."

Lawson first began visiting Malawi because his father-in-law was volunteering with the Shire Highlands Milks Producers Association as a large-animal veterinarian. During their first visit, Lawson developed a friendship with a young man named Moises, who was the youngest of three boys in his family and a member of the local soccer team.

Meeting Moises inspired Lawson to get involved.

"He's an outstanding young man," Lawson said. "He's actually going on to become a plumber, which is a very big deal. We were happy to help him and his friends on the soccer team."

On the last day of the trip, members of the Ngoni tribe invited Lawson to a ceremonial dance as a gesture of thanks.

Although he's unsure if he'll ever return to Malawi, Lawson is content knowing a piece of him will remain there.

"To know how happy I was when I wore a Tommies jersey, how much pride I had being a part of the team, and the pride I had to be part of this university, and then handing it to them and them wearing it and being proud—they can feel that energy. It felt great to leave a part of me over there with them."