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Springfield College celebrates 125 years of basketball

By Gage Nutter
Assistant Sports Editor

Photo of Springfield College Digital Collections

The men’s and women’s basketball teams split their decisions on Saturday. The men’s team lost to a supremely talented Williams College team,  87-69. The women’s team narrowly escaped the clutches of defeat by beating Worcester State in overtime, 49-43.

Aside from a basketball doubleheader, there was a lot of basketball related events on Saturday.

The first event of the day was open to all Springfield College students to compete in. At 10:30, students slowly filled into the field house and warmed up for a three-point contest. The finalists from the men’s and women’s brackets were set to compete at halftime of the women’s basketball game against Worcester State. The winners of that final match-up were to be awarded $125 of bookstore credit. It was a heated battle between contestants on both sides in the preliminary rounds. Eight contestants competed in the men’s bracket and four competed in the women’s bracket, but there could only be one winner at the end of it all. Springfield College soccer star Brad Deckel topped the men’s bracket for the first two rounds, but was usurped after fantastic rounds by Cory Gaudiello and Cole Donovan. Gaudiello and Donovan would go on to hold their respective spots at the top until the end at made it to the championship round.

On the women’s side, Alyssa Germano and Taylor Kane were a cut above the rest from the get-go. Germano and Kane were in the top-two spots from the beginning and held their respective spots until the end, they were then set to compete in the championship round.

In the championship rounds the pressure was on. All four competitors were now out of the confines of the Field House and were now on the big stage of Blake Arena. All four competitors did not shy away from the spotlight, but in the men’s round Gaudiello pulled away from Donovan towards the end and earned himself the $125 bookstore credit.

Gaudiello did not come into the day with a game plan, but after the first round he started to mold a strategy.

“Coming into today I did not have a strategy, but once I found out the rules my strategy was to just chill in the corner,” said Gaudiello. “I have always liked shooting from the corner and i figured just staying in one spot would save me a lot of time to shoot.”

Gaudiello knows that schoolbooks don’t come cheap these days, so he plans to put his awarded credit towards buying books, and maybe some new Springfield College gear.

“I plan on probably getting textbooks,” he said. “Maybe a nice t-shirt, I will have to see what they have over there.”

In the championship round for the women it was a close battle until the end, but Taylor Kane was able to pull ahead before the final buzzer sounded to pick up the win and the $125 store credit.

Kane did not go into the competition with a strategy either, she won on pure talent.

“I did not get to warm up so I was really nervous,” she said. “I just went for it and it ended well.”

Kane and Germano came into the shootout as competitors, but friends as well. The two of them made an agreement that benefitted both of them if either of them won the final round.

“I’m buying my best friend Alyssa something,” she said. “She competed with me and we made a deal that if one of us won then we would buy the other one something. I will also potentially do some Christmas shopping.”

Next up was the men’s alumni game. Competitor’s ages ranged from the class of 2016 to the class of 1991. It was a back and forth battle for both halves. Although it was merely an exhibition game between friends, there were still some highly competitive moments throughout the game, just a sign that everyone still had the hunger for competition. The Maroon team trailed for most of the game, but with under ten seconds remaining, the Maroon team pulled ahead on a highly contested layup and held on for the victory.

There were at least 40 people in attendance to watch the game, including some members of the current men’s Pride basketball team.

Recent graduate, Pride men’s basketball great Josh Altman, felt like nothing had changed since he last played with the guys.

“It is like nothing has changed at all,” said Altman. “Its funny actually, everyone is exactly the same. The guys and I were just talking about how it feels like yesterday that we were all in the gym together practicing, and now we are off doing our own thing. So it is cool that we can all come back and share in something that brings us together.”

Steve Schibi, class of 1992, was happy to be back on campus, not only to take in how much the school has changed, but to meet up with some old friends.

“I have not seen some of these guys in around 15 years, so it is great to be here,” said Schibi. “The college looks great, I have not been here in awhile so I am looking forward to catching up on some stuff with everyone.”

During halftime of the men’s basketball game against Williams College, Pride men’s basketball legend Ed Billick was honored for his contribution to Springfield College athletics and his longstanding love for the institution. Bilick was the men’s basketball coach at Springfield college from 1966 to 1986, head varsity golf coach from 1959 to 1966, and served as athletic director.

Bilick loved being back on campus, not just to get reacquainted with some people, but to remember the memories that are associated with those people.

“It is great to be back,” he said. “Springfield has a very fond place in my heart. I have seen a lot of friends and have a lot of memories from here. Wins and losses are one thing, but the most important thing for me in coaching are the memories that are associated with the people that play for you.”

Bilick felt that it is important to celebrate an accomplishment like 125 years of basketball at the institution, because it is a celebration of our heritage.

“Dr. Naismith, when he invented the game of basketball, established a heritage here at Springfield College,” he said. “That heritage has been passed on to coaches and to players throughout the years. Now it has been passed on to this year’s team. The connection with basketball that this school has is recognized not only nationally, but internationally.”

To end the day, women’s basketball alumni competed in a game of their own. There were people of all ages at the game competing as well as spectating.

Alumni were excited to meet and get to know the new and current Pride basketball players.

“It’s been amazing, it’s like family, even the girls we haven’t met before,” said Heather Lewis. “You look at the previous generation [of players] and you think, ‘wow, they’re just like me.’ It’s like a family reunion. This was so much fun, seeing and respecting the older girls who were really good before you. And they’re still really good.”

For most alumni, playing at Springfield College was a big part of their lives, and they are more than happy to come back to campus and rekindle relationships.

“[Playing here] was such a big part of all of our lives,” said Emily Gins. “To come back and see everyone [who] we’ve spent so much time with, it was so much fun. They should do this a lot.”

From the two basketball games, to the alumni dinners afterwards, it was a fun time for not only alumni but students as well. One hundred and twenty five years of basketball at Springfield College is more than deserving of the celebration it was given. Now it is time to look forward to 125 more years of creating great memories and fostering relationships that will last a lifetime.


Gage can be reached on Twitter at @GageNutter

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