Sophomore Darren Goodson faced a lot of trials and tribulations growing up. The 6-foot-5 forward for Pensacola State’s men’s basketball team grew up in the Winton Terrace Projects in Cincinnati, Ohio where he was exposed to crack dealers, robbery, and murder.
“It was hard but my mother always found a way to take care of us,” Goodson said.
Goodson, who was first team all-state last season, is pushing himself and striving to accomplish so much so he can move his mom out of the projects and give her a happy ever after.
“When I talk to her on the phone, she starts to cry,” Goodson said. “She can’t believe I’m doing so good.”
Sometimes Goodson has to get off the phone with his mother because he hates to hear her cry.
“Her crying is pain and I know it is,” Goodson said. “My goal is to have all of that go away.”
Goodson is majoring in recreation technology, but his goal is to get a degree in education so he can be a high school basketball coach at his former high school. He is the first male in the family to graduate from high school and the first to go to college.
“It makes me feel good to have that goal and to be the first person to do that,” Goodson said.
Goodson’s life today is far different from high school. His freshman year in high school at Withrow University High School, he thought he could do what he wanted, neglected his work and didn’t listen to his teachers.
“My mother was always at work so I didn’t have anyone there to punish me when I did wrong,” Goodson said.
His coach told him he was good enough to play on varsity but his grades dropped and Goodson admits he was considered a ball hog with a bad attitude. No one wanted to be around him.
“I remember I hated my coach for not letting me play varsity but that summer I worked hard,” Goodson said.
His sophomore year, Goodson transferred to Aiken High School, started on the varsity team and won player of the year in his high school conference.
“As a sophomore, that’s really tough to do. We had a lot of good players in the city that year,” Goodson said.
As an incoming junior, Goodson verbally committed to Bowling Green State University but lost the commitment because of his grades and a controversy surrounding charges which were later dropped for lack of evidence. But the damage to his reputation had been done.
“I never realized how serious it was,” Goodson said. “It kind of hurt, but I knew I had other options.”
Kent State University was looking to recruit Goodson as well.
“Even though I didn’t qualify because of my grades, they followed me at prep school,” Goodson said.
In Ohio, students have to take the Ohio Graduation Test. There are five areas of the test one must pass. Goodson didn’t pass the science part. To improve his grades in his senior year, Goodson went to Edison Job Corp Academy in New Jersey, a no cost career training program run by the Department of Labor. There, he was still able to play basketball competitively.
“It was different and I had to adapt,” Goodson said.
He went back to Ohio over the summer, took the test, passed all five areas and was able to graduate from Aiken High School.
“I had already passed, but decided to stay at prep school and finish it out,” Goodson said.
After he finished at Edison, he went back home and that’s where he met Pensacola State men’s basketball head coach Pete Pena.
“It was open gym at my old school and he thought I was good,” Goodson said.
Goodson came to Pensacola and checked out the campus.
“Even if I didn’t like it, I was still going to come here,” Goodson said.
Goodson has taken full advantage of his second chance. He hasn’t failed any classes, attends class daily, and is doing well academically as well as on the court.
“College is different from high school like how it’s set out,” Goodson said. “You don’t have the same classes every day.”
Goodson talked to Iona in New York, Toledo, Louisiana-Lafayette, East Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Southern Alabama, Troy, and UAB, among others, but he will return to his Ohio roots by signing with Kent State University.
“I wanted to weigh out my options but it was a no brainer, I was committing to Kent State University,” Goodson said. “They have always been loyal to me and I feel I made the right decision.”
Goodson has set many goals to accomplish before leaving PSC for Kent.
“I want to get to the (Panhandle Conference) championship,” Goodson said. “It’s not about winning, just getting there and I really think we can.”
But, his biggest goal of all is to graduate.
“I’m going to graduate,” Goodson said.
Goodson looks up to many people who have inspired and motivated him throughout his life: Coach Pena, his Cincinnati mentor and his wife, Shawn and Cindy Chandler, and most of all, his mother.
“My mother doesn’t get caught up in the basketball life but I know she’s proud of me,” Goodson said.
With the friends and family he has made here, Goodson said he will definitely keep in touch with those he loves.
“I’ll keep in touch with my room-mate Tyree Smith,” Goodson said. “He and I have come a long way and I feel like he’s my brother.”