By Josh Stowe ’01
Notre Dame Alumni Association
Dressed in matching uniforms, the team emerged from their limo before taking the court. They were about to get stomped by the top seed, and they were going to go down in style. Warming up, they practiced their best slam-dunk techniques with the aid of a trampoline before looking around for their “coach,” who arrived shortly before tip-off.
“When it was game time the bells rang in the Basilica and Fr. Ted processed to the old bookstore courts. He greeted his team and gave them ‘last rites’ in Latin and stayed for a while taking part in the festivities,” recalls Rich O'Connor ’83, who served as an associate commissioner during the ’83 Bookstore Basketball tournament “I will always remember fondly my part in the world's largest single-elimination basketball tournament. Look out for the manhole cover!”
O’Connor’s recollections are among the Bookstore Basketball stories alums recently shared as the latest tourney gets set to tip off later this month. From colorful team names to creative uniforms and humorous attempts to compete, their memories help capture Bookstore Basketball’s enjoyably zany traditions.
Uniforms figured prominently for Steven Schmitt’s ’85 team. “Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand” played in M&M-inspired red, yellow, orange, blue, and green jumpsuits between ’82 and ’85. Their best finish was in the round of 64.
Sean Meehan’s ’13 team, a group of mathematically inclined friends, formed “Nothing but Liebnets” and actually advanced several rounds.
“Nothing like debunking stereotypes,” he says. “Some math kids can ball!”
They certainly performed better than John Triscik’s ’06 M.A. team, “Absolution".
“We dressed as priests,” he says. “We didn't win a game.”
In a tournament where half the fun is deciding on your team’s name or what to wear, that’s O.K. Several people remember having less-than-stellar Bookstore Basketball careers.
Megan Strader Meihaus ’01 joined several Farley Hall friends to compete on “Looks like a Pump, Feels Like a Sneaker.”
“We were the best Farley girl team ever (and by best, I mean worst), circa 1998-2001,” she says. “One year we lost in the first round to ‘Ego,’ who I am pretty sure went on to win the entire tournament.”
For Mike Navarro ’93, the tournament unexpectedly helped him become a better student.
“My favorite bookstore basketball moment was back in ’91 or ’92, when I scored about 10 of my team's baskets and the Observer did an interview with me that it included in the next day's paper. I got a call from what I thought was a female student basically saying she had read about me in the paper, and was calling to congratulate me on my performance and to verify that I wasn't sick,” he remembers. “I thought the last statement was kind of odd, so I told her no I wasn't sick, why did she ask that?”
The answer: It was actually one of his professors, who’d seen the campus newspaper and realized why he’d missed her most recent class, which had included a graded exam.
“I then proceeded to get a stern, well-deserved lecture. We finally agreed that I could make up that exam, on the final exam date, and that I would have only the allotted time for the final in order to do two exams,” Navarro says. “Up to that point, I was not the most studious person, but her threatening to fail me kind of woke me up, and from that point forward, I was a decent student. Who would have known that in a roundabout way, it was because of Bookstore Basketball?”