Embracing the Madness ... Way Past My Bedtime
By Matt Choquette, Sports Information Intern
I work in the sports information department here at Moravian College, and frankly, I never needed a reminder why I love what I do. But I got one in Johnston Hall on Friday night at the annual Midnight Madness event to officially kick off 2013-14 Greyhound basketball.
Assistant women's basketball coach Sara Steinman invited me to participate in the students vs. faculty/staff exhibition game. Standing at 5-foot-6 (and three quarters), I accepted the invitation assuming I would be playing for a Washington Generals-type team against Moravian's version of the Harlem Globetrotters.
The event kicked off with the formal introductions of the men's and women's basketball teams, who will officially begin their seasons on Friday, Nov. 15. The men's team fired up the student section, all donning white Greyhound basketball jerseys, with the vocally rising chant of "Yes, Yes, Yes!" – borrowed from World Wrestling Entertainment star Daniel Bryan – accompanied by multiple sets of double-pumping fists in the air. The women further heightened the energy level in Johnston Hall with a breakdance circle and a stunning pop-and-lock number from the night's emcee, Phoebe Stone, to the beats of DJ Joey D – also known as Joey DiSarno, a member of the Moravian baseball team.
After a long work week, my 28-year old body was lamely preparing for sleep at 10:30 p.m. My mind, however, had to prepare for battle as I dusted off my Converse All-Stars I bought in 1999 and took the court with my fellow Moravian staff members against a formidable student squad.
My game plan at this point was to avoid embarrassment and get a quick 10-minute cardio workout in before calling it a night. That plan changed when assistant men's basketball coach Pete Hamilton found me at the top of the three-point arc two minutes into the scoreless contest.
My natural competitive spirit took over, and I launched up a high-arching rainbow shot toward the net. To my surprise, the shot hit nothing-but-net and gave my side a 3-0 lead, astonishing the Midnight Madness crowd that was quickly filling the bleachers on Friday night.
Working in sports information, one of my main responsibilities is publicizing the games, meets and matches throughout the athletic year. One of my go-to postgame interview questions is asking what a particular student-athlete was feeling during a big moment of competition. I realize now that it's a much more difficult question to answer than I anticipated.
If I were asked that question about my three-point field goal, I would have most likely stumbled and stuttered my way through a response, because the moment was already a blur in my memory. The crowd's enthusiastic response, coupled with my limited expectations for myself, made it difficult to vividly recall my 15 seconds of fame.
The purpose it served, ultimately, was a reminder of how much I love this job. Moments like that happen on a daily basis on all of Moravian's 18 NCAA Division III athletic teams, and I am able to tell the world about them through writing, pictures and quotes from the student-athletes who immortalize the moments.
ABOVE: President Grigsby and Mo pose with members of the Moravian College women's basketball team.
ABOVE: Is there ever such a thing as too many greyhounds?
Of course not!
Division III athletes do not receive scholarships. They don't see their names and likenesses on video games and they are not featured on Sportscenter. They compete for pure love of the game and proudly wear the Blue and Grey to further enhance their education through camaraderie and teamwork.
What we do is a small reward for their hard work. After a game, they can read about their efforts on MoravianSports.com, see their action pictures on social media, and watch video recaps on GreyhoundTV. It's professional treatment for a vast group of Greyhounds who compete for unadulterated love of their respective sport.
Midnight Madness was a microcosm of this campus-wide attitude. I was able to witness everything going on behind the scenes to promote two Moravian teams. This is not to mention witnessing the myriad off-the-field efforts and works of charity completed by the Greyhounds throughout the year. I have been in this office for two months, and I already get the sense of what Moravian athletics is all about. Every single team embodies the notion of playing for the name on the front of the jersey instead of the number on the back, and giving back to the community that makes their experience possible.
President Bryon Grigsby, a 1990 Moravian graduate and star goalie on the men's soccer team, competed in a game of P.I.G. against a group of students, including freshman Brendan Barca of the men's soccer squad, who was eliminated by the president. Students then competed in wing eating and pie eating contests after cheering on the men's and women's basketball teams in a three-point shooting contest, which the men won. A skills relay and RA shooting contest preceded the main event for the night, the Knockout for a Nook competition.
When I saw head basketball coaches Mary Beth Spirk and James Walker – the guest referees in the student vs. staff game – throw up the signal for a made three-point field goal, I was happy to contribute to the excitement of the evening, despite my team eventually losing 14-8. On the Monday after Midnight Madness, I'm happy to get back to work promoting Moravian athletics.
They make my job easy, and now I remember how they feel after leaving it all on the field, court, pitch or track. I appreciate being an honorary Greyhound for a day, and as the great Rocco Calvo said, "It is a great day to be a Hound."
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