Teachers top battle with studentsThe eighth-graders had high hopes going into Friday’s student versus faculty basketball game at Northwestern Middle School.
The eighth-graders had high hopes going into Friday’s student versus faculty basketball game at Northwestern Middle School.
“I think we’re going to beat them,” said Natalie Olson, an eighth grader from Lake Nebagamon. “We have a really strong basketball playing group.”
The teachers may be bigger, said sixth-grader Ethan Jensen as the game began, but the students are faster.
Watching the game from the bleachers, eighth grader Selena Garcia, 15, wasn’t convinced.
“I think the teachers are going to win,” she said.
Winning would be nice, said Principal Ken “The General” Bartelt, but “from our standpoint, it’s survival.”
“The kids wear us out,” said social studies teacher Mike “Gots no Hoops” Ketola. “They really do.”
A total of 17 eighth-graders played the full-court game. Students rated Alex Tecker, Michael and Matt Lindsay, Tyler Little and Laurissa Vik among the top eighth grade players. Facing them were the staff, whose roster included physical education teacher Pete “Big Popi” Lawton, math teacher Jeff “Nothing But a Brick” Olson, counselor John “Not So Much I Got Game” Woodbury, language arts teacher Philip “The Wrath” McGrath and science teacher Dan “No Defying Gravity” Widiker. Many sported recent tattoos.
The annual basketball match signals the beginning of spring break.
“These guys kind of look forward to it for three years because only eighth graders can play in it,” Widiker said.
Students who didn’t play in the game had other jobs, from security guards and announcers to scorekeepers and coaches.
“It’s just a good thing before spring break and it makes the students feel like the teachers can connect with them,” said eighth grader Bailey Evans, who dressed up in a tiger suit to keep the crowd cheering.
The school is really into basketball, Natalie said, and “it’s just fun to do.”
The annual game encourages team spirit and camaraderie, Ketola said.
“It’s a way to establish those meaningful relationships with kids and see teachers in a different light,” he said. Students have only won the annual game twice, Ketola said, and one of those times was last year.
Friday’s game thundered up and down the court, with students coming close, but never overcoming an early teacher lead. The faculty led 24-19 at the end of the first quarter and edged to a 10-point lead by halftime, 44-34.
Half time included an NMS version of the “Harlem Shake” and a student shootout. Even full-court press couldn’t give the eighth-graders an advantage in the second half, as the teachers improved their lead to 65-44 by the end of the third quarter. In the end, the teachers regained their crown. The 33rd annual student versus faculty basketball game ended with a final score of 76-56. But there’s always next year.
“It’s something they really look forward to,” Ketola said. “And it’s something kids will never forget.”