There is a unique event—or new-founded Vassar tradition as some might call it—that is fast approaching. On April 1st, the annual Student-Faculty basketball game is scheduled to take place at Walker Field House. This will be the game’s sixth year, and while the custom is still relatively new, it has been welcomed by the Vassar community. The event is unlike anything else at Vassar. Students from all disciplines, as well as faculty members that are not just professors, are encouraged to participate. Faculty members from the Sociology Department and Safety and Security are involved, and it is healthy for students to see professors and faculty members outside of their typical roles and vice versa.
The students have prevailed in three out of the five games with the faculty members winning in 2010 and 2013. The scores in past games have been close, usually with the victors winning by a handful of points. There are 34 players on the “Old School” (faculty) team, and 25 players on the “New School” (student) team. Coach of the Student team and a first year participant in the game, Colleen O’ Connell ‘16 said, “I have never played in the Student-Faculty basketball game, but I’ve attended every one since I’ve been a student at Vassar. I love watching basketball in general, but watching my friends and professors compete in a fun and intense atmosphere is always a great experience. I think it promotes a lot of school spirit and brings the campus together.”
O’Connell said of her team, “We have a solid group and I am confident in everyone’s play, even after watching some people just play once. We bring a ton of energy to the floor, which will be awesome to watch. Let’s just say that I have the opposing team pretty well scouted from my pickup experiences and my time as a varsity athlete on the women’s team. I haven’t lost a one-on-one game to Coach Brown (the women’s head coach) yet, and I don’t plan on losing this game to her either.”
Also on the Student team, Osamagbe Ogbeide ‘15, a veteran Student-Faculty gamer who has played in the game in all of the four years that he has attended Vassar, is just looking forward to playing some good basketball on a real basketball court. He says, “Ever since I first decided to retire my rowing spandex freshman year, I’ve been a part of both the annual student-faculty game and Vassar’s pick-up basketball culture. Similar to a lot of kids who I play pick up with at Vassar, I never had the chance to play organized team basketball. Pick-up is great, don’t get me wrong, I love the cardio, but they never let us play on the real courts, so I’m honestly just excited to run around like a real basketball player!” Ogbeide is not hesitant to state what he thinks the outcome of this year’s game will be, “The student team is stacked. Our strategy is to let our youth prevail. We’re stronger and faster than them, so it shouldn’t be too hard. I will say, however, that I played with a few faculty members earlier this week and was surprised by the IQ and fundamentals a few of their players possess. I hope that muscle memory works out for them!”
On the “Old School” side of things, six-year veteran and creator of the event, Dean Christopher Roellke will be donning the number 50 jersey in honor of his upcoming 50th birthday. He has two goals for the game: “[that] everyone that plays and comes to the game has fun and that no one gets hurt! Vegas has the students as 18 point favorites this year and we love being the underdogs. Our problem on the Old School team is that the students seem to come back every season at the same age, while many of us transition to the geriatric stage of our lives.” On the event as a whole Roellke said, “this is precisely why the game is planned–to bring a wide range of students, employees and community members together over something flat out fun.” He says further of the game, “There is a little known rule in the original rules that all students must stay 15 feet away from the Dean of the College at all times. Regretfully, this rule has never been followed. I worry about all the players on the student team!”
Another faculty member and veteran gamer participating in the game this year is Tyrone Simpson of the English Department. When asked what encourages his consistent participation in the game each year, Simpson said, “an acute and untreatable form of masochism.” He said to beware of his “Old School” team because “Professor Molly McGlennen and Coach Candice have mean jumpshots!”
The predicted outcome of the this year’s game certainly seems to be in favor of the students. O’Connell said, “I may be biased here – but I think that the students will definitely win this year’s game. We have a lot of talent on our squad, and everyone brings something different to the table. That being said, I think our advantage lies in utilizing our youthfulness and athleticism. Running the floor and scoring easy transition buckets will be one of our main offensive strategies. Defensively, we are looking to use our athleticism to create steals and turnovers.” Ogbeide said, “I really like this event because it is a time for all of Vassar to come together for a lighthearted rivalry. Yes, it’s our brilliant youth versus their grey hair– but on a deeper level I think, just given how tense our campus climate has been of late, the student faculty game provides Vassar a small window of bliss to bridge our differences in the moment. This is not to say we should use this game as a means to forget our student body’s ongoing push for social change on campus, but we can all appreciate the humor in our teachers wearing headbands, long “dad” socks, and basketball sneakers from the 80s.”