Charles Jenkins’ parents, Charles and Patricia, had just begun speaking to a reporter (OK, spoiler alert—the local media referenced in the next-to-last paragraph here was me) at Hofstra Arena Monday morning when their son came bounding up the stairs.
“Wait, hold on a sec,” Jenkins said. “I’ve got some big news to tell you all.”
Jenkins paused as he leaned in towards his parents and his face lit up with an ear-to-ear smile. “Saturday, they’re retiring my jersey.”
“Oh my God,” Patricia Jenkins said, and began to cry.
The player who has done it all at Hofstra added yet another unprecedented accomplishment to his overflowing resume Monday when the school announced it would retire Jenkins’ no. 22 before the Senior Day game against Delaware. Jenkins will be the 25th athlete in Hofstra history to have his number retired, but the first to see his number raised to the rafters while he is still active. He is one of just a handful of Division I players to ever have their number retired while still in college, joining the likes of Tim Duncan at Wake Forest and Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner at Duke.
Jenkins learned the good news in the exact same spot he sat last spring when he twice learned he’d have to play for a new coach as a senior. “Mo, Charles and I met in [his] office and we had him sit in the exact same spot [he sat for] the coaching changes,” said athletic director Jack Hayes, who followed Jenkins up the stairs in section 100 at the Arena. “[He said] ‘We’re going to change this 180 degrees from the first conversations you had when you were on this couch.’ We told him, he was all smiles.”
“Thank you,” Patricia said, her eyes still brimming with tears. “Thank you, thank you.”
“The only bad part is it means it really is his last game in the building,” Hayes said.
A grinning Mo Cassara made his way to the Jenkins family. “I don’t mean to keep interrupting, I just knew you’d be happy about that,” Cassara said. “It’s the most deserved thing.”
“I didn’t expect to come here and cry,” Patricia said.
“I didn’t mean to,” Cassara said, still smiling. “The banner’s been ordered and we’ve been holding off on telling him for a while. It’s going right next to Speedy and it’s not coming down.”
“Lord have mercy,” Patricia said.
Charles Jenkins Sr., meanwhile, just smiled as widely as his son, too happy and shocked to say much of anything. “As a player here, you get a family,” he finally said. “So that’s them.”
“That’s a blessing,” Patricia said. “First I got my degree. Now [Hofstra’s] going to retire his jersey. That just made my day.”
Then the reality began setting in, in a different way, for the elder Jenkins, who are planning to host about 50 family and friends Saturday.
“I don’t think we made enough T-shirts,” Patricia said.
As for the honoree, he was blindsided by the news—the third time he’s been shocked in Hayes’ office, and by far the best as well. Jenkins said he initially wanted to try and keep the jersey retirement a surprise from his parents until Saturday but was convinced to let them know by Hayes and Cassara.
“I wanted them to find out Saturday, I didn’t want to just break the news to them,” Jenkins said a couple hours later, after he finished a series of phone interviews. “But Jack Hayes and coach Mo, they felt it would be great for me to tell them. And me breaking the news to my Mom and seeing her cry and being very happy for what happened, it was a great feeling to see.”