A 43-Year Legacy of Lunchtime Layups
While it may be impossible to confirm if Ursinus’s lunchtime basketball game for faculty and staff is the longest-running pick-up game on a college campus, surely it must be the liveliest.
Nearly every Wednesday and Friday, just after 12:30 p.m., a group of faculty, staff, and community members lace up in the Floy Lewis Bakes field house for a basketball game that is equal parts competition and good-humored ribbing.
Keith “Beatle” Brand ’75 is currently the player with the most tenure. He estimates the game began five years after he graduated, when it was held on Sundays in the gym in Ritter Hall. The late Bob Brant ’77, P’10, an emeritus member of the Ursinus College Board of Trustees, was the original commissioner, a position now held, unofficially, by Professor of Physics Tom Carroll.
“Bob was the guy who started it up and got it going,” said Brand. “Soon into it, everybody started rearranging their schedules so they could get off at lunchtime and play.”
Teams vary week to week, and the group will play either a half-court or full-court game depending on the number of players. “What we try to do with the game is match up: The two best guys cover each other, me and the next worst guy cover each other. So the teams are pretty even. They’re really good games. They’re competitive,” said Brand.
Assistant Professor of Journalism Doron Taussig, who joined the squad shortly after arriving at Ursinus five years ago, appreciates the social aspect of the game. “I get to connect with people from other parts of the college that my job doesn’t bring me into contact with,” he said. “I got to know a bunch of the athletics coaches who play in the game. I got to know Diane, the librarian. I got to know Tom … a physics professor I would normally have nothing to do with the course of my day-to-day life here.”
Librarian of the College Diane Skorina, who is also co-director of the Teaching and Learning Institute and chair of CIE, has been playing in the Ursinus game for 15 years. “I love the game. It’s good-spirited, and it’s fun, and we kind of make fun of each other. I get made fun of because I’m a librarian and they like to tell me to go back to the library and check out the books, but it’s all in good fun so I love that. I love the camaraderie,” she said.
Like Taussig, she values the connections she has made thanks to the game. “I know alums like Beatle who comes and plays, and I know people from the community who’ve just joined us for years. These are people that I consider my good friends. That’s why I love it.”
Nolan Sachs ’20 was a student when he first learned of the game. He watched his coaches play in the game, and finally got a chance to hit the court when he returned to Ursinus last year as an assistant coach of men’s lacrosse.
“Basketball is definitely one of those sports where anybody in any age group is welcome to come out and play,” said Sachs. “It’s a really collaborative group to play with. They accept everybody, and it’s a ton of fun just coming out of your normal workday and playing some basketball.”
Other court regulars include Associate Head Coach of Track and Field and Recruiting Coordinator Stargell Williams; Associate Head Coach of Track and Field and Cross Country Maria Stickley; Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Olena Kozhushkina; Head Coach of Swimming Mark Feinberg; Head Coach of Men’s Lacrosse Corey Schaffer; and Assistant Coach of Men’s Lacrosse Marc Poust. Associate Head Coach of Football Rob Quigley and Offensive Coordinator Jeff Endy will rejoin the group next semester, and local community members Paul Klauder, Mike Stengel, and John Russo (who is currently on the injured reserve list) are also longtime players.