Pickup games get a promotion

by Matt Couture / Beacon Staff • March 22, 2017

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The club basketball team won its first game this winter.
Courtesy of Bavand Karim
The club basketball team won its first game this winter.
Courtesy of Bavand Karim

Emerson’s first club sport to receive approval since the launch of a new application process is laying plans for its official debut this fall.

The Division of Student Affairs granted the club basketball team approval as an official student organization ahead of the spring semester, Emerson athletic director Patricia Nicol said. The group hopes to begin playing competitive games in the fall.

The team sprung out of pickup basketball games played by non-Emerson athletes during Emerson athletics’ open gym hours in the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym.

Nicol told the Beacon in January that club basketball will be a collaboration between Student Government Association (SGA) and athletics. The group will be budgeted through SGA, Nicol said.

Club basketball was the first club sport to petition for official status as part of Emerson’s new application process, which asks students to fill out a form similar to the one used to create a general student organization. The former president of club basketball, Chasen Parker, told the Beacon in November that a council was built to present the concept to SGA. The group submitted a constitution and other forms as part of the process. 

Bavand Karim, a professor in the visual and media arts department, will serve as the club’s adviser and coach. Karim said he met Parker during open gym times, and was asked to coach from there. Karim played in Division II college basketball at the University of Texas at Dallas, and played professionally overseas in Iran and Turkey, he said.

Karim teaches TV studio production at Emerson. He said lessons learned on the basketball court can serve students well.

“You don’t always get to touch the ball and take the game winning shot,” Karim said. “A lot of basketball is sacrificing yourself for the greater good. I feel like those lessons apply in a greater sense to our lives.”

The team is planning to hold tryouts this fall with the goal of finding a core group of around eight players for a competitive team. Additional players could be used as part of a scout team to provide extra bodies in practice, or to play a larger role in games when members of the main group are unable to attend, Karim said.

Karim said Parker recruited other students to build up the concept of club basketball, and Mitchell Fahey, who graduated after the fall semester, worked to establish a Rolodex of sorts, calling around to other club basketball teams in the area to gauge interest in games. Emerson sophomore John Newton is now coordinating the administrative side of the organization after Parker left the college.

Newton said he and his teammates want to go beyond pickup games and play serious basketball. 

“We don’t just want to play, we want to understand the offense and defense, [and] we want to know the situations,” Newton, a journalism major, said.

The team currently practices during open gym, which typically runs three times a week, Karim said. Karim said about 40 students participate overall, and while only men have joined so far, all are welcome. 

Despite the fact that club basketball was approved ahead of the spring semester, Karim said it was put on probationary status until the fall, meaning no games involving non-Emerson students can be hosted using the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym.

Emerson athletics’ director of media relations Matt Ulrich said the restriction is placed by SGA and Student Life after the approval of new clubs.

Once probationary status is lifted in the fall, the team will explore joining a local league—potentially NIRSA (previously known as the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association) or the National Club Basketball Association.

Local colleges Clark University, Boston College, and Harvard College play in the NCBBA, and Boston University plays in the NIRSA.

Karim said he would like to see time during open gym hours specifically devoted to club basketball, which would allow the team to play full court games. Karim said the team currently competes for space with others, including varsity Emerson athletes, who want to use the open gym time, limiting practices to half court, four-on-four affairs.

“Losing yourself in the moment is one of the things that addicted me to playing basketball,” Karim said. “I would love for all of our students to be able to experience that. In order for that to happen, we need to re-create a real game time situation, so that’s what I’m striving to do.”

Newton said the organization could produce opportunities for students interested in other aspects of basketball, such as managing, coaching, or keeping statistics. He said he would be interested in coaching a potential scout team, and hopes to coach basketball in his future, post-Emerson.

It could also provide an opportunity to showcase talent to Emerson’s varsity basketball team. Karim said guard Ranton Andaya played club basketball before being added to coach Bill Curley’s Lions unit as a walk-on.

The club basketball team played its first and so far only game in December, easily picking up a victory over the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Newton said he pulled off a double-double, scoring 12 points.

Karim said those interested in becoming involved should contact him at EmersonLionsBasketballClub@gmail.com.