Student, staff basketball game raises mental health awareness

Justin Fishman, Senior News Editor

The annual student vs. staff basketball game took place on Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. The game was enjoyed by staff and students alike, but the true purpose behind the game was to raise awareness for mental health.

The game was sponsored by Umttr, a mental health awareness organization that was founded nearly seven years ago. Umttr is a founding member of Michelle Obama’s “Campaign to Change Direction” in mental health. Students who participated wore umttr jerseys as they faced off against the underrated squad of teachers.

The team of teachers had more years under their belt and less athleticism than the students, but they made up for it with experience and fundamental basketball. Teachers playing included Alex Parker, Neil Klees, Quan Duong, and Michael Thompson. Klees was a walk on at St. Joes and used his skills as an experienced guard to dribble through and score on the students.

The game was officiated by security guard Eddie Tolliver, who conducted the tip off. Each quarter was 10 minutes long with a five-minute half time for the teams to shoot around, talk strategy, and hydrate for the second half. The teachers showed from the beginning of the game that they weren’t playing around and had no intention of losing to the students. They immediately took a lead, which made the students, led by coach Chris Papadopoulos, call a timeout to talk things over.

As the first half went on the students narrowed the teachers’ lead with the help of football star Noelly Miller and ping-pong phenom Roy Ke. Although the teachers still led 33-31 at half, the students were gaining momentum and had their eye on the prize. “I may not be the greatest basketball player on the planet but if you don’t get a hand up in my face when I’m shooting threes, I will make you pay for it,” Ke said at halftime after going three or four from long range in the first half.

The students took a different approach to the second half by trying to use their athleticism and lengthy bench to press the teachers and force turnovers. This tactic worked well as students began forcing steals to create opportunities for three pointers, which they cashed in on. The lack of subs on the teachers’ side created opportunity for the students to take advantage of the fatigued team of teachers and take the lead.

The students led by five at the end of the third quarter and the game was still up for either team to take. With continued intensive defensive pressure, the students forced more turnovers and converted on the offensive side. The student team pulled away in the middle of the third and the game ended with the students coming out victorious with a score of 64-53. The two sides shook hands after the game and acknowledged each others’ basketball skills with good sportsmanship.

Junior Evan McLaughlin enjoyed playing in the game and wishes there were more events that involve both teachers and students. “Although I didn’t score and got my ankles broken by Mr. Klees, I had a great time playing and still got to walk away as a winner,” McLaughlin said.