Team Pettit will face off against the Benson Ballers for the annual faculty and staff basketball game after today’s evening Bible Conference service at 9 p.m. in the Davis Field House. The game will raise money to renovate Family Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
The event, organized by the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, gives students the unique experience of seeing their professors in a completely different context. BJU President Steve Pettit and Dr. Alan Benson, the executive vice president for student development and ministry advancement, will coach the opposing coed teams.
The game will include four eight-minute quarters and a halftime show featuring special competitions. The women will play in the first and third quarters, and the men will play in the second and fourth quarters. Athletic director Neal Ring will serve as the announcer during the game.
Kayle Stevenson, a junior journalism and mass communication major and SAAC member, said that SAAC hopes to build on the event’s success from last year. “It was kind of an impromptu thing [last year],” Stevenson said. This year, SAAC asked students to nominate the faculty and staff they wanted to see compete, and then invited the nominees to play.
SAAC sold tickets for the game in the student mall Tuesday through Thursday of Bible Conference and will also sell them at the DFH before the game starts. Tickets cost $5, paid via cash, card, Venmo or Apple Pay. Concession sales at the game will also go toward the Bible Conference fundraiser.
Pettit and Benson chose their starting lineups, but the rest of the players were randomly assigned. Pettit, who competed in sports through college and coached afterward, said he looks forward to coaching Team Pettit. “I’ve got some pretty heavyweight players,” he said.
Members of Pettit’s team had a different story to tell. Several participants said the players’ deficient basketball skills will make the game even more interesting. Jonny Gamet, member of Team Pettit and the Bruins’ assistant athletic director for communications and marketing, said he hasn’t played basketball since high school. “It’s probably not going to be good basketball, but it’s going to be fun basketball,” Gamet said.
Aaron Burk, assistant men’s director of Student Life, will play for the “Benson Ballers.” Burk said he knows the audience members don’t expect high-caliber competition. “As players, we trust they’re laughing [with] us and not laughing at us,” Burk said.
Dr. Matthew Weathers, director of international student relations and of the Center for Leadership Development, said he looks forward to playing on Team Pettit. Weathers said he enjoys soccer, snowboarding, hiking, biking, swimming and running, but that he has never done well at basketball.
“I play basketball like [the movie character] Rudy plays football,” Weathers said. “No skill, but a lot of heart and passion to try to help your team to victory.”
Jessie-Marie Heath, assistant to the director of intramural sports, was surprised to become a starting player for Team Pettit. Her initial reluctance to play vaporized when Pettit doubted her basketball skills. Heath primarily plays running and throwing sports, including cross country for the Bruins, but not basketball. “I kind of want to prove Dr. Pettit wrong because he said that I can’t play basketball,” Heath said.
The prize for the winning team will come in an immaterial form, according to Weathers. “The winners will be able to not be as pained by their battle wounds,” Weathers said. “The real win [will be] giving students the opportunity to see faculty and staff running around on a basketball court, having a great time for a great cause.”
Gamet agreed. “It’s a very worthy cause … so if we can play a small part in that, even if it means doing something that we don’t normally do … we’re happy to do it,” Gamet said.
Burk said the game offers a rare opportunity that students will not want to miss: “If you’re not there, and you hear about it, you’re [going to] realize you should have been there.”