'Like an extended family': Mercer women's basketball teams spends Thanksgiving together

    Miles Garrett (WGXA)

    MACON, Ga. -- Thanksgiving is the time to spend with family, but for those who live out of town that may not be an option.

    The Mercer women's basketball team made the most of the holiday by spending it with their "family away from home."

    Mercer's campus was quiet on Thanksgiving - except for one place. The women's basketball team had an early morning practice morning.

    On Thanksgiving, it can be a different experience for some freshman, which coach Gardner knows from her own career.

    "I remember being so sad as a freshman like, this is not right, I'm supposed to be in Tennessee with my family. So I remember that so vividly that I'm very cognizant for how our freshman feel," said Gardner.

    Even though she's missed out on celebrating Thanksgiving with her family, Gardner knows this is a new feeling for many of her athletes.

    "You just kind of get used to it as a coach but that's when I have to remind myself that hey even though I've done it for 'x' amount of years, it's the freshman's first time and I have to be a little more compassionate this time of year," she said.

    Shannon Titus is a sophomore at Mercer, so she's been through this before. Now she's doing her best to make her teammates feel at home.

    "It was very different this time of year, I mean I got so close with all my teammates like you said, it's like an extended family. So we just have fun, we all goof around and we're all thankful for each other, being around each other," said Titus.

    The bears got to eat together at Idle Hour Country Club before leaving to play a game in South Carolina on Friday, and their Thanksgiving buffet served as a place holder for what the bears have to be thankful for.

    "It might be difficult for them but like I said, we're all family, we're all close, we're just gonna have fun with them, make them know that this is their second family, you can feel safe with us. It's gonna be a great time," Titus said.

    "We try not to make it too big of a deal, but we also try to enjoy our time with them. And like I said have a great meal and try to keep it as normal as possible. On one hand it's a little tough but on the other hand everyone can kind of be together," Gardner said.

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