BY RODNEY MARGISON
Many of the faces have changed over the past two decades, but not the bond that brings them together—basketball. Every Sunday at 8 a.m., approximately 20 men, young and old, gather at the Southeast YMCA to shoot hoops for a couple of hours. Their reasons for playing are as diverse as their backgrounds.
Eric McIntosh, 51, is a newspaper accountant who has been playing at the Y for 20 years. He considers the weekly pickup games a stress reliever. “It’s a bunch of great guys to be around and play basketball with, and you don’t have to worry about anything but basketball,” he says. “That’s the beauty of it.”
McIntosh also touts the health benefits. “I know if I don’t play for four or five weeks, I may never play again,” he says.
Sixty-five-year-old Ken Swingley is a surveyor by trade who played baseball in high school, but he’s been hooked on shooting hoops for 45 years. He used to play regularly at Indiana University’s Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) building, until a fire damaged it in July 2011. Since then, he’s been a Sunday regular at the YMCA.
“Some of the guys who used to play in HPER switched over to here,” he says, explaining that he plays for recreation rather than for fitness. “I just do it for fun.”
Donté Walker, however, has used the weekly pickup games to prepare for the start of his serious basketball career. Last November, he tried out for—and made—the Indy Naptown All Stars, a semi-professional team in the American Basketball Association. “I play and take the Sunday morning basketball games serious, improving each week,” Walker, 25, says.
Two full-court games are held at a time. There are no pre-established teams and no activity fee is required to play—only a YMCA membership or a day pass.
“Basketball has the power to bring people together in a way that can be positive,” Walker says. “At the end of the day, everyone’s happy to burn some calories, have a few laughs, and play the best sport ever.”