This past Wednesday was the day that everyone had been awaiting…the student-faculty basketball game. The student team consists of 28 promising Vassar students, while the “Old School” team rosters 13 faculty and administration. For six years, the students and faculty have battled it out on the court in close competition. Both teams have recruited the strongest and toughest Brewers and have trained extensively for this day.
In history, the match-ups have been neck-and-neck with the record holding at 4–2 in favor of the student team. When the tradition began in 2010, the faculty bested the students with a 66-65 victory. The students’ buzzer beater in the second half was not enough as the faculty took the game. Then in 2011, the students returned with vengeance and defeated the faculty in overtime. Regulation play ended with a 36-36 tie, but the students quickly dominated the three-minute overtime and won the game 49-41.
In 2012, the students won again, but were then defeated by the “Old School” in 2013, when the faculty came back prepared and ready to compete. In 2014 and 2015, the students again proved dominance to hold four wins in this school tradition. This year, the Old School team looks to improve its record by slaying the court.
Each year, crowds of students, faculty, administration and alumni gather into the Athletic Fitness center for this memorable event. The gym has never failed to have an energetic atmosphere and it proves to be a night filled with Brewer pride. In addition to being a show of athletic prowess, the game has achieved other goals of the Vassar community.
Since the onset of this tradition, the game has served as a fundraiser for financial aid, scholarships and Student Gifts. In 2010, the ticket sale proceeds went into the Senior Class Gift of an endowed scholarship fund tied to financial aid. With the hard work of the students and the graciousness of alumni, the money earned in 2010 totaled to $68,070. Then in 2014, the proceeds earned from the $5 ticket scales contributed greatly to the Student Gift for the Internship Grant Fund.
Another positive aspect of this Vassar custom is the enormous crowds and pride generated for this event. Former college historian Betty Daniels reported that the audience of nearly 2,000 people in 2010 made the student-faculty game the most attended sports event in all Vassar history. Since 2010, the game has drawn large crowds, with nearly 800 people watching each year for the first four years. As Dean Roellke commented, the student-faculty game is an incredible way to bring the whole Vassar community for some great fun. The game is unique in that it bridges all gaps in the Vassar community. Students, athlete and non-athlete, professors, administrators and other employees all come together for a night of fun while raising funds for notable causes. There is no event quite like this on campus.
Adding to the entertainment, there have been impressive performances by many different members of the communities each year. One year, the Vastards sang a rendition of the national anthem and President Catharine Bond Hill has led “Old School” cheers with fellow faculty. Cappy and other faculty enthusiasts cheered, “Give me an O, Give me an L, Give me a D, Old School! Old is School!” during the 2010 halftime show. Since then, the dance crew HYPE has performed outstanding dances during halftime to a myriad of song mash-ups.
Although the night is full of upbeat energy, both teams work very hard and train day-in and day-out for this showdown. The student team has held four scheduled practices to polish their skills and develop team chemistry. However, Dean Roellke revealed that the Old School team has outshined the students in terms of effort and preparation.
“The Old School Team has been preparing since we got absolutely crushed by the students last April,” Dean Roellke explained. “We have been doing double sessions, with intensive strength and conditioning sessions at 6 a.m. and then again at 6 p.m.” he said in jest.
Dean Roellke created the event back in 2010 and has played in the game every year. He has drained a few baskets and has provided great moral support, proving to be a “must-watch” in this year’s game.
Varsity coaches B.J. Dunne and Candice Brown have also been scouted and prove to be strong forces for the “Old School” team. On the sidelines, both coaches have led Vassar’s teams to many victories and they hope to bring that success to the “Old School” team this week. Coach B.J. Dunne has coached the Brewers for three years and has won the most regular season and conference games in Vassar men’s basketball history. As a player, Dunne played for Bates College varsity basketball and served as captain his senior year.
On the women’s side, Coach Candice Brown has led the Brewer team for six years and has earned a whopping 99 wins throughout her coaching career! Coach Brown played for the Marymount Saints and steered the team to its only Final Four appearance her senior year. To win this year, the students will definitely need to deter Coach Dunne and Coach Brown from the basket.
Nevertheless, the student team has great talent and will be a force to be reckoned with on Wednesday night. Sophomore Kim Romanoff noted she was eager for the game and has been training hard in preparation, practicing her half-court shots in particular. She disclosed, “Our game plan is to only take half-court shots.” Kim was an impactful player on the women’s varsity team last year, scoring 93 points and averaging 3.7 points a game.
On Wednesday night, Zoe Walker, another former player on the women’s varsity team, will join Kim to take on the faculty. Zoe scored 32 points in the 2014-2015 season, to average 2.1 points per game. Both Kim and Zoe look to be standout players for the student team and bring the team to victory.
Other varsity athletes to join the student team include women’s rugby senior Min Chen and women’s soccer players senior Kamaria Coley and freshman Dahlia Chroscibski. Senior Emma Roellke is another noteworthy player as she takes the court to battle against her father, Dean Christopher Roellke.
Emma Roellke stated, “I feel really good going into this game. We have an awesome group of students and we’ve already proven during practices that we work well together as a team. Kadeem Nibbs has shown great leadership and we are fortunate to have Colleen O’Connell working with us from the bench as well.”
When it comes to playing against her father, however, Emma confessed, “Anyone who has ever seen the Roellke family members compete (or even cheer on the sidelines) at a sporting event knows that we are among the most competitive families in the tri-state area. I played against my dad on the student team freshman year, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to play again during my final year at Vassar. Though us Roellkes do love winning, it really is all about having fun.”
Junior Wesley Li will return to the game for a second year on Wednesday night. “It’s very fun playing against the faculty,” Li shared, “The game is a great and memorable experience.”
Nevertheless, Wesley admitted that the students are not guaranteed a victory, as the faculty is tough competition. He also expressed concern about the almighty Coach Cameron Williams, the varsity strength and conditioning coach. “Coach Cam is very strong and athletic, it’s going to be tough to guard him but I think I can do it,” asserted Li.
Regardless of the talent on the student side, Dean Roellke was optimistic about his team’s chances, “We are doing all this training in a stealth fashion as we think the profound overconfidence of the student team is very much to our advantage. We very much like being the underdog.”
Dean Roellke added, “The students now lead the series four games to two and the time is absolutely right to have age and wisdom prevail. Though we continue to age gracefully, we also acknowledge that the very talented student team seems to keep coming back with players the same age–roughly 18 to 21.
We have four goals for this game:
First, we pack the house!
Second, everyone has fun!
Third, no one gets hurt!
Fourth, Vassar wins! (In this case, the Vassar Old School team wins!)”