There are students here at UTM who take advantage of the two-hour recreational pickup basketball games every Thursday and Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the RAWC. These are the students you often see as you walk up or down the stairs to the Meeting Place on your way to class or the parking lot. These are the students who believe their student experience improves because of the opportunities at the athletic department. Although they aren’t drowning in their commitments to sports and school, they take the opportunity to play the game they love with joy.

A native of Ottawa, Chris McDonald believes the recreational pickup basketball hours have given him a means to maintain a healthy active lifestyle. “I take advantage of the hours because it gives me a good opportunity to be active and release the stress that is brought by my school work,” he says.

On Friday afternoons, McDonald and his friend Alessandro Tanzi play competitive rounds of basketball with friends. Tanzi is an international student from Milan, Italy who finds that basketball has given him a platform to meet new friends. “I have formed numerous friendships through pickup basketball here at UTM,” he says.

The 6’1” Tanzi shoots jumpers over McDonald, demonstrating his skill. Playing basketball here has given him the ability to practice and maintain his skill. “I have played competitive basketball since the ninth grade,” he says. “I was a player for an Amateur Athletic Union team that selected European players to play in national championships in the United States.”

Along with the strong camaraderie among the players on the court, there is friendly trash-talk that allows players to show confidence and invite stronger competition, ultimately leading to a more enjoyable skirmish. “Another thing that I really enjoy from pickup basketball is the trash-talking,” says Tanzi. “It gives me that extra motivation to add more tricks to my game in any possession.”

McDonald claims that even though he’s an amateur, he’s confident he’ll improve his game and athleticism by playing against stronger competition such as Tanzi and friend Nick Hallet, a second-year biology student. “You see guys in here on a consistent basis getting better, guys come here so they’re ready for their intramural (or extramural) basketball program,” he says.

Come to the RAWC on Thursdays and Fridays and join in on the competitive fun.