New to the scene: The Washington University Skywalkers
Who are the Skywalkers? In just one year, this Washington University club basketball team has gone from an idea in the minds of two freshmen to a team competing against some of the best in the region.
Team presidents Jake LaMountain and Sam Propis, now sophomores, filled out the paperwork to start a club basketball team last year.
“There had already been a girls team created at the beginning of [last year],” LaMountain said. “We kind of latched onto what they had done and used them for help. We started working [last winter]… once we laid the groundwork that term, this year we were able to start off with having tryouts.”
The very first tryouts for the team were held in the fall. Turnout was unexpectedly high.
“We had a huge showing and we actually got to cut people and actually get a good group of [players],” Propis said.
The club selected around 18 players for its squad. For many of the Skywalkers, playing on the team gives them a chance to relive their days of high school basketball or playing in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball league.
“Before [the team], the only other opportunities were pick-up basketball and IM [intramurals],” senior Troy Cosey said. “Intramurals were fun, but competition wasn’t nearly at the same level as high school. [The Skywalkers] was just a lot of fun because it was more-so reminiscent of AAU leagues… and it’s also a lot just to get that competitive nature back.”
Just weeks after forming the team, the Skywalkers hit the road for their very first tournament in Kirksville, Mo.
The team beat both Truman State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City before they lost in the finals to the University of Missouri.
“It is pretty intimidating when some of us are 6’3” and 6’4”, but some of [the other teams’ players] are 6’9” and 6’10”. You notice a gap, but it’s almost like we just enjoy being on the court and being able to play [in an official game],” Propis said.
Success this year has been spotty. The team lost all three games at its second tournament in the fall before losing both games in a regional tournament at the University of Kansas.
“One of our bigger issues is getting everyone to a tournament,” LaMountain said. “Our tournaments are weekend-long trips, so even though we have a team of around 18, getting eight is still difficult. We haven’t been doing great, but we’ve been having fun playing, and we’ve just started and we’re working on things that we can improve to get better as the next years come around.”
Though their season ended last weekend, when they won one of three in a tournament at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, the Skywalkers have only just begun.
“We had, in our first year, five tournaments, which was great,” LaMountain said. “I couldn’t have expected anything better. I’ll be a part of this for the next two years while I’m here, so will Sam, so will a lot of the guys who are on the team.
“With that foundation, I feel there’s no reason for this to not continue as long as any of the other club sports.”