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In the 1980's, it was estimated that close to a third of the student population of Southlands was involved in Basketball in some way. Recently, a group of Roehampton alumni from 30 years on gathered for a reunion game to celebrate the friendships and memories that they made on the court. 

Southlands Ball

Southlands Basketball Alumni Reunion

In the early 1980’s, when Basketball was a fixture on Channel 4 and Alton Byrd was almost a household name, an enlightened Roehampton Sports Sciences lecturer named Pete Esrich took a group of freshers down to Tolworth Rec to watch the then Bracknell Pirates (now Guildford Heat) play the Kingston Kings in the National Basketball League. In only a few years Kingston, coached by Kevin Cadle, would become one of the powerhouses of British Basketball with the likes of Steve Bontrager, Dan Davies and Martin Clark dominating domestically and leading then into Europe, however on that night they were woeful. 


Nevertheless the experience ignited a flame and before long a newly formed Roehampton’s Men’s basketball team where competing in the Surrey League. This was followed by a Southlands Ladies basketball team who quickly established themselves in the Surrey league winning promotion in only their second season. For many years Monday night in the Southlands gym was hoop night with three different sessions running for mixed, ladies and men’s. 


Out of the success of Monday nights was born the (slightly ironically named) Southlands Basketball Super League (SBSL). This was a mixed league that enjoyed success both in terms of uptake and longevity. The season was capped with a play-off for the top four placed teams competing for “The Plate” played out in front of a noisy packed gym gallery.


With the men’s, ladies and mixed SBSL teams it was estimated that close to a third of the student population of Southlands was involved in Basketball in some way. 


Recently, a group of Roehampton alumni from 30 years on gathered for a reunion game to celebrate the friendships and memories that they had made on the court. With daughters, sons and spouses getting in on the basketball action, it was clear that this group was excited to be back on campus and playing together again. 

 
“It was an excellent day. The “South” won and no one got injured so couldn’t ask for much more. Thanks to the University and Sport Roehampton for helping make this happen,” said Graham Varley, a 1984 graduate in Maths and Sports Studies who also went on to be Sabbatical treasurer and complete his PGCE at Roehampton in 1986. 


If you are Roehampton alumni and would like to organise a reunion or would like to enquire about upcoming events, please contact Alumni@roehampton.ac.uk.

Story posted: Monday, 26 November 2012

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