Athletics in a sense has shaped the lives of many. Whether its pick up in the park or a local rec league athletics has a profound impact on many individuals. But at some point in life athletes move from being a participant to a spectator. However, the transition from participant to spectator usually comes sooner rather than later.
According to scholarshipstats.com only seven percent of high school athletes move on to play at the collegiate level. The other 93 percent are left in the bleachers watching the game they once revolved their life around. Even with the stiff decline in athletics former athletes are now finding alternative options to play the games they grew up loving.
Due to the high demand for alternative athletic options, colleges are forming intramural leagues where former athletes can relive their glory days against lower competition. Students now have the chance to form teams with their friends and compete against other students. Intramural sports are becoming increasingly popular at many universities, and Marist College is no exception. Many students spanning from freshmen to seniors take time out of their day to partake in intramural activities. However, there is one team in particular that put the Marist community on notice four years ago.
The term dynasty is commonly used in professional sports. For instance, Jordan’s Bulls, Brady’s Patriots, and Magic’s Showtime Lakers. However, the Discount Belichick’s are a dynasty in their own right in the intramural realm. In their tenure at Marist, the Belichick’s have only lost 4 games between both flag football and basketball. The Belichick’s flag football roster includes Brian Gemma, Thomas Gentile, Michael Fasano, Craig Conway, Kyle Pensa, Mason Rush, Nick Sobo, and recent addition Biagio Raimondi. Tales of them scrimmaging the D1 football and basketball team are common, but the results might shock many. On defense, Gemma and Rush play safety, while Gentile and Raimondi rush the quarterback. The rest of the team settles into a short zone not far off the line of scrimmage. It seems like a pretty simplistic defense on paper, but Gemma sticks by his defensive scheme it claims that the nature of flag football makes their team’s defense impenetrable.
“You have to understand that most of the players you’re playing against have never played competitive football in their life. They aren’t exactly putting complex offenses on the field. You can usually bet on teams throwing deep balls, simple crossing routes, and runs. Our zone eliminates runs and short crossing routes. But Mason and I usually pick off the deep passes.”
It’s hard to throw any ball over Rush’s 6’6 frame. Rush previously played basketball and soccer in high school but made the easy transition over to flag football once coming to college. As for Gemma, not many balls get past the previous all-state safety. He holds the interception record at East Greenwich Highschool and also serves as the quarterback for the Discount Belichick’s. Rush, Pensa, Conway, and Fasano serve as Gemma’s main receivers. Often times due to the rigorous curriculum at Marist many players often miss games. But, even playing a man down the Belichick’s still manage to mercy each team that steps in their way. It doesn’t take long for the score to run up and the mercy rule to take effect.
Intramurals are a prime event to trash talk opponents and no one does it better than the Belichick’s. Rush an ample trash talker himself, stated, “I like to let kids know that their quarterback is never going to look them in the face because they are never open.” However, a lot of the trash-talking doesn’t even occur on the football field but on the basketball court. The Belichick’s go by a different name for intramural basketball, but the roster, for the most part, stays the same. Their team name is “CYO Basketball” and the starting line-up consists of Gemma, Fasano, Conway, Gentile, and Phil Cantave. Throughout most games, the chirping does not stop. Fasano and Gentile are notorious around the league for their constant smack talk.
Gentile stated “I’m probably the biggest smack talker followed by Mike Fasano even though he will say he is the biggest smack talker. He can’t match me I got him beat by like probably 100 percent.” When asked to give an example of his famed trash talk Gentile declined. “Nah, it’s too graphic for this conversation.” Gentile most notably played basketball and football in high school. As for his trash-talking friend “Mikey pots and pans Fasano” he was not afraid to back his smack talk. “ Oh I love talking smack it’s a mental game for sure. I love giving some chirps and getting people all fired up, get them off their toes you know.” Fasano continued on to provide one of his infamous trash-talking lines. “Mikey’s in the kitchen baby the pots and the pans.” Fasano most notably played basketball in high school and was first-team all-league.
Craig Conway, the team’s shooter may not be the one to talk smack in the game, but is not afraid to boast his skills as well. “I’m the best shooter in the league hands down.”
However, Conway credits the team’s chemistry and love for the game for their success. “We know each others games well and I think that helps us click.” Conway was a previous all-state soccer player but always had a love for basketball. Gemma and Cantave also hold their fair share of athletic ability. Cantave previously excelled at soccer in high school, but would constantly find himself on the basketball court perfecting his game. Gemma, on the other hand, was an all-division basketball player in highschool and found himself dominating the intramural league as soon as he hit campus. Both Cantave and Gemma let their game do the talking as they are more quiet on the court.
“CYO Basketball” and the “Discount Belichick’s” emulate what intramurals is all about. They are scrappy pickup games between former athletes and the prize being bragging rights and a shirt. Nothing else except the sweet satisfaction of playing the game you love drives these students away from their busy college lives and onto the court. Not only has the intramural program at Marist College created relationships within each team but it’s formed lasting relationships with opposing teams as well. The start of a night will begin with two players going at each other on the court and towards the end, the night ends in beers and laughs.
Yes, “CYO Basketball” and the “Discount Belichick’s” emulate everything intramurals is about, but are still different. Their dominance cannot go unnoticed. Rumors surfaced about the Belichick’s scrimmaging the Marist football team in a flag game and beating them. Gemma confirmed these rumors and declined any further questions. They are meticulous on the football field. Routes are constructed on the fly and Gemma scrambles until someone is open. It is classic backyard football that cannot be stopped. “CYO Basketball” is not your average rec team either. The first half of the game is used to build a commanding lead. In the second quarter, they run teams out of the gym and take advantage of their opponent’s ill-conditioning. Fast break layups and outlet passes are common. However, “CYO Basketball” seems to face stiffer competition than the flag football league. Yes, they blow teams out, but games have been much closer recently. Needless to say, if you think they are worried they are not. They have only lost four official games between basketball and football, and their confidence does not seem to be wavering any time soon.
Fasano stated, “We’re never going to lose, we never lose.” The mindset of a true intramural team.
Edited by Joshua Katz