Annual Student-Alumni Basketball Game


Kaylie Keegan '21

Johnny dribbling past Mr. Bannard

A group of alumni spanning five decades in age gathered in the Athletic Center on January 20th for a game of basketball. Though many of the graduates never played together in their time on Groton’s team, they all had one goal in mind: to beat this year’s boys varsity basketball team. The Student-Alumni basketball game is an annual tradition that graduates and students alike look forward to as the winter term is in full swing. Players on both teams shared their thoughts on the tradition.

Mr. Bannard ’01, a current Latin teacher and basketball enthusiast, has been on both sides of this game. As a former two-year varsity player during his time as a student, he sought his fifth straight win as an alum in this event. When asked about the importance of the game, he explained, “I enjoy the competitive environment out there, playing with former students and old teammates.” Remembering his varsity days, he recalled crowded gyms being ignited by the dunks of former teammate, Chris Thoms ’99, another active member of the student-alumni tradition. After mentioning his competitive motivations, Mr. Bannard was sure to note that “the game is really all about having fun in the end. It is something that I, as well as other alumni, get to look forward to every year.” 

On the opposing side, current captain Johnny Stankard ’19 was also excited for the contest. Johnny had a composed demeanor when discussing the game. “It is more of a fun event than anything else. We all have a good time playing and joking around with the alumni. Winning is just an added bonus – we’re here to give the alumni a good time back at Groton,” he said. His good-natured banter did not stop him from mentioning his personal ambitions, however, as he called out one alumni by name: “I always look forward to guarding Mr. Bannard. He brings the intensity, and I love it.”

In order to raise school spirit before the game, the Essence Step Team, comprised of Ayanda Tambo ’19, Angelica Parra ’21, Edwina Polynice ’21, and Dashy Rodriguez ’19 gave an energetic performance that energized both teams. The game was a nail-biter throughout, as each time the students extended on their lead, the alumni responded with a score of their own, including a rim-rattling dunk by alumnus, Chris Thoms. But in the end, there was a final score of 65-56, with the current Grotonians capturing their first win in 22 years. As well as being a fun game, the tradition gave alumni the chance to reconnect with each other and stay updated on the current program.