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Hoop-La: RISD’s Basketball Team is Having a Ball
The Balls warming up for a recent game against MassArt (photos by Nicole Mercer, Center for Student Involvement).
In the tradition of all great RISD sports teams (The Nads,
The Jugs, The Pricks), our basketball team proudly carries a name that students
at most schools might be embarrassed to shout in a packed auditorium. Thankfully,
RISD students aren’t shy about supporting their Balls. Games draw crowds of
cheering students who gleefully shout apt innuendos and chant somewhat
inappropriate slogans as the Balls fly across the court.
Team captains Gavin
Engel 12 ID and Henry Freel 13 ID
appreciate the enthusiasm of their fans. “They’re not so much into the
basketball as the excitement of the game,” Engel explains. Last year one
renegade fan from the Creature Creation
Wintersession puppet class brought a giant alligator head to a game and ran around
the back of the court dancing and attempting to distract the opposing team as
they took their foul shots. His moves may not have been entirely legal, but the
team and the fans alike loved it.
Sadly, one especially distracting member of the RISD community
has been banned from all Balls games this year: our beloved mascot Scrotie.
Parents at the Wheeler School, the private school up the hill that allows its
gym to be used as the team’s home court, find Scrotie’s enthusiasm to be
offensive and have barred the boisterous phallus from cheering on his team with
the rest of his peers.
Still, in spite of Scrotie's absence, RISD fans flock to
games to support their team. The Balls roster includes 12 students in a variety
of majors ranging from Architecture to Glass. Led by Engel, the often co-ed
group is on the court from November to March, practicing every Tuesday night.
“It’s a great stress reliever,” says Engel, smiling. “Tuesday night is a good
time to play ball.”
Practices have been held on Tuesdays since the team was resurrected
a decade ago by Joe Gebbia 05 ID+GD (one of the
entrepreneurial trio that now runs the successful travel business AirBnB). The Balls were originally founded in
the 1970s but were disbanded for years until Gebbia got to RISD and wanted to
play. Since then, captains have been working with RISD students’ varied studio
times and strange sleep schedules to get the team working together and to give
the fans the great games they crave.
Game night always pulls plenty of fans out of their studios
and to the gym to support their team. “Last year at the Cooper Union game in
New York City, there were more RISD fans there cheering than there were Cooper
fans,” laughs Engel. Students hitched a ride to the Big Apple on the team’s bus,
leaving work behind in an outburst of school spirit. There are few things more
rewarding than calling out racy chants at rival art schools as the Balls clash
on the court. I guess RISD is a school that just loves its Balls.
— Samantha Dempsey 13 IL
The Balls 2012 season schedule
photos of Balls vs MassArt
photos of Balls vs Sarah Lawrence