Club basketball shooting for SGA approval

by James Kwon / Beacon Correspondent • November 16, 2016

While Emerson is home to a plethora of student-run organizations, it has no functioning club sports. A group of students driven by their love of basketball is looking to change that.

Since the beginning of the semester, there has been a consistent group of students meeting at least twice a week to play pickup games. They play whenever they can, whether during open gym hours or when the official sports teams are not on the court.

The sizable interest is evident in the pickup basketball Facebook group, which currently has 153 members. Junior Gennaro Ilaria said along with the number of players, the talent pool is also unexpectedly impressive.

“I played ball a decent amount back at home and I thought I was going to come here and kill [it],” Ilaria said. “But there’s kids who play ball here, like kids that are really good. They put in the work and like to play…People don’t think that, I didn’t think that.”  

Sophomore John Newton, a regular participant in the pickup games, also sees a high skill level in the group of players, none of whom are on the Emerson Lions basketball team.

“What I see just by playing pickup is a lot of talent,” Newton said. “I see guys that do these crazy things off the dribble, and are really good around the basket. There are other guys who are really good shooters…Once we get a team structured, it’s going to be a lot more organized and we can put those talents to use.”

Talk about forming a club team started last spring, but they couldn’t form a council in time before the year ended. That disappointment motivated the group, and they constructed a council for the club that they wanted to create.

Senior Chasen Parker stepped up as president of the organization, with Newton following behind as vice president. Under the advisement of film professor Bavand Karim, who acts as a mentor to many in the group, they drafted a plan of the club’s goals.

The team would hold practices that would include all members of the club, regardless of their skill level. In addition, players would have an opportunity to try out for a hand-picked competitive team.

The group presented their goals in a meeting with the Student Government Association on Nov. 5. Parker believes that the SGA is fond of the idea of a more inclusive club that welcomes people from all walks of life.

“I think they just want it to be the most inclusive environment possible, just like most Emerson clubs,” Parker said. “I think they want us to be, very much so, open to everybody, and I think that’s what we are shooting for.”

The team’s vice president also felt as though the meeting was successful, though he remains nervously optimistic.

“We don’t know what happens behind closed doors with these deliberations,” Newton said. “Honestly I think we gave a great pitch…it went very smoothly. But it’s impossible to not be nervous for something like this. We would be overjoyed if the decision is rendered in our favor, and devastated if we’re not able to play competitive games.”

Parker said the club’s mantra of collaboration and improvement would bring students from different majors and backgrounds. Sophomore Jonathan Dery especially values this goal of working together.

“Anyone can apply that camaraderie…that sense of teamwork and cooperation and collaboration to anything,” Dery said. “But especially at Emerson, especially with students in theater, and especially with students in film, it’s all teamwork, it’s all mass teamwork.”

Another goal of the team is to be as inclusive as possible. The idea of being on a close knit team appeals to many, as it is another way to make longtime friends, as was the case with Ilaria.  

“I’m a transfer student, I just transferred here as a junior, and I don’t really know that many people. I don’t live on campus,” Ilaria said. “Coming here, meeting people consistently every week, especially if we do get a team together…it’s forming a relationship with people. It’s really good especially for incoming freshmen and transfers like myself.”

Now for the group, the only thing to do is wait for the SGA to reach a decision. Newton said that the decision should come out before the beginning of next semester. Though they feel like they made a good case for recognition, Parker said they have a plan if the ruling doesn’t go in their favor.

“If we don’t get approved, all we would is keep doing the same stuff we were doing,” Parker said. “We would get together, we would play, and have a good time and just be a little sad that we couldn’t get finally certified.”