A growing legacy: community basketball

By By Jake Hibbard, Staff Writer

By Jake Hibbard, Staff Writer

Universities are homes to secret societies8212;Yale’s Skull and Bones, Dickinson’s Raven’s Claw, Cornell’s Quill and Dagger8212;but between the sneakers, sweat and slam dunks, the U’s hasn’t become so infamous.

As long as anyone playing now can remember, a group of students, professors and an eclectic bunch of whoever else gathers to play basketball in the HPER building, year-round, every Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Jaime Steron, a U alumnus from 1983, said he has been playing basketball with this nameless group since the early 1980s. The tradition was already well-established back then, he said.

The players’ faces change throughout the years, but there has never been a time when they stopped meeting to play, Steron said.

“It’s kind of like an unofficial club,” said Sam Matyjasik, a senior in elementary education. He’s been playing with the group for three years. He said he too has never seen a break in play as long as he’s come, though the people seem to be getting younger.

“When I first started coming three years ago, it seemed like there were more older guys that played,” he said.

One new addition to the group is Tyler Stack, a U graduate student. He came to play for the first time Thursday and said he is already hooked.

“I’m probably going to try to come every Thursday,” he said.

Most guys that play get to know each other, Matyjasik said, and, as a result, games are more relaxed and enjoyable.

“It’s fun because we still play competitively and try to win, but we’re not yelling at people when they miss shots,” he said.

Since the group is not an official club or organization at the U, it has had problems in the past finding an open gym to play, Steron said. They now have an agreement with HPER that almost always allots them a gym during the time they play.

“Usually it’s at least 16 guys (that play),” said Pete Cummings, a Salt Lake City resident with no affiliation with the U. People show up regardless of bad weather or holidays, he said.

“Maybe if the Olympics were here, or if the Jazz were in the Finals, we might not play, but other than that, we’re going to be here,” Cummings said.

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Mike Mangum/The Daily Utah Chronicle

Sam Matyjasik, a senior in elementary education, goes up for a basket during a game of basketball in the HPER building. Matyjasik plays with a group that meets every Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 1