Men’s basketball: Lions looking to star in Hollywood

by Jackson Ellison / Beacon Correspondent • November 2, 2016

The Emerson men’s basketball team is trying to raise $25,000 for a trip to Los Angeles over winter break to give players’ families a chance to watch them play in person.

The Lions want to compete against different opponents for a change of pace from the familiar competition of New England. Emerson has scheduled games against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona Pitzer.

Assistant coach Alex Hansen is in charge of the fundraising effort. He said that the basketball team tries to go to Los Angeles every three or four years, and with three players on the team from California—Corey Fitz, Alex Miles, and Michael Sheng—it is an ideal time to make the trip.

Fitz, a guard and forward and a junior marketing communication major from Los Altos, California, said he is excited for the opportunity to play in front of his parents. Since Emerson rarely travels outside of its region, it’s hard for his parents to watch him play.

Hansen said Emerson’s many connections to the City of Angels helped determine it as the destination for the trip.

“It has a lot to do with the [ELA] campus” Hansen said. “The Emerson brand is actually pretty popular in Los Angeles.”

The trip is projected to cost between $22,000 to $25,000, which comes out to around $1,700 per player. Donations help pay for meals, transportation, and other necessities for the team.

The men’s basketball team already completed multiple fundraising efforts to pay for the trip. Captain Jared Kortsen, a senior marketing communication major, said the team participated in several events to raise money.

“We’ve worked [Boston College] football games,” Kortsen said. “We had the opportunity to be vendors, so we sold hot dogs and sausages to raise money. We also worked the Tufts 10K handing out water cups.”

Kortsen said that the team also started an online initiative called “Lights. Camera. Basketball.”  The campaign asks fans, friends, and family to donate money that will help pay for plane tickets, meals, and other important needs for the trip. The site has already raised $10,000.

Due to the Division III status of Emerson, they don’t have access to the same resources as elite college basketball teams. Typically, a school pays for a team’s trip with the money they get from booster programs.

“We love when alumni donate, and obviously we are not going to turn any of that down. But being DIII, we generally have to pay for anything that is not just our regular season ourselves,” Hansen said.
 
While this trip will focus on basketball, the team is looking into other activities while in Los Angeles. Hansen said the team will visit the Emerson LA campus and give the players a chance to explore that area.

Hansen also said the trip will also help the team stay in shape. The Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym will be closed at the start of winter break until early January.

From a coach’s standpoint, Hansen said the trip to Los Angeles will help show off Emerson to high school players. He wants to scout the area for new recruits.

“I know myself and associate head coach Jack Barrett have a whole schedule of high school games that we are going to go see while we’re there,” Hansen said.

Fitz said the trip will also help the players get to know each other more and grow as a team.

“I think a big part of the trip is that it’s a team bonding experience, especially bringing in all the new freshmen,” Fitz said. “It gives us a chance to get to know each other better and become more of a family.”