Published February 22, 2024

Setting a foundation for success

Club Basketball: In its inaugural year, Ohio Men’s Club Basketball looks to set successful foundation

By Marc Goldstein | For The Post

At the heart of every high school athlete, there is a desire to continue playing their sport at the next level. For some lucky, talented individuals, that dream becomes a reality. Unfortunately, the percentage of players that get the opportunity to play at the next level is small. However, for some, there are ways to keep playing their respective sport without being on the varsity team.

In its first season, Ohio University Men’s Club Basketball looks to give opportunities to those who did not get the chance to play at that next level.

Daniel DiBernardino, a junior studying marketing, is at the head of the team as the head coach and club president. Dibernadino’s goal in creating the team was to provide a place for students to continue their passion for basketball in a more laid-back environment while maintaining the competitiveness of sports.

The team, in its infancy, is a part of the NCBBA, the organization that oversees all club basketball, both men’s and women’s, across the country.

Unlike intramural sports, the level of competition and intensity is higher in club sports. While intramural sports play against other teams at OU, club sports will face competition from other colleges.

The entire process of creating the team boiled down to DiBernardino putting his passion into action. Noticing that there was no Men’s Club Basketball team, DiBernardino decided to take it upon himself to create one.

“I just wanted to play basketball and continue my basketball career in college,” DiBernardino said. “I noticed my freshman year that we can have a team. For some years, (I) was scared to still join groups or stuff like that. As I moved further along in college, I wanted to get this college basketball thing started.”

DiBernardino explained that although he has an affinity for playing the game, he made the choice to be on the sidelines rather than the court out of fairness to the team. He did not want to put himself automatically on the team simply because he was Club President.

Alex Gebers, the Assistant Director of Competitive Sports, has aided DiBernardino in setting up the season and overall team structure.

Although the team is in its first year of existence, the first year of playing games will come next year. All teams in Competitive Sports are forced to begin with a single-year probation period.

The goal of the probation period, according to Gebers, is that the team can prove it can be self-sufficient. In the first year of existence, the team will fundraise and try to make money for a sustainable future. At the end of that year, if the team has proven to be self-sufficient then it will proceed to playing games.

Aside from making money for the team, there has to be an actual team in order to get off the ground. In this case, DiBernardino did all that he could to recruit players to join the team.

One of the players, Giacomo Pegan, a freshman studying Sports Management, saw a flyer for the team and said his interest piqued. Pegan played basketball in high school at Fayetteville-Perry, just outside of Cincinnati.

“As soon as I moved into college, every single person that I met and became friends with, I told them that I wanted to play basketball here,” Pegan said. “... I was hoping there was going to be a club (team) and when I didn’t see it, I was very upset and bummed. One day, somebody posted on the OU Snapchat story saying they’re having tryouts … I needed to try out for sure.”

As anyone who leads a student organization knows, there is a struggle to gain the respect of the members. DiBernardino has wrestled with this issue as being friends with some of the players does him no favors in earning their respect as their coach.

“I think being close in age has helped us create a stronger bond,” DiBernardino said. “I don’t know if they see me as a coach or a friend, but I hope they can see me as both.”

One of the things working in the favor of both DiBernardino and Gebers is the fact that there is a Women’s Club Basketball team at OU. The successful club team acts as a roadmap for DiBernardino and Gebers to establish the presence of the Men’s Club Basketball team.

“(The Women’s Club Basketball team) is a guide,” Gebers said. “Because they are the same sport and both have the same governing body of the NCBBA … I am going to make sure that when I communicate that with the Women’s team, I am now going to communicate it with the Men’s team. With fundraising, what has worked for the Women’s team? With new jerseys, where did we get them? How much did they cost? I can now share that information with the Men’s team, so it is very similar when it comes to those things.”

With a year to prepare for the first season, DiBernardino, Pegan and the rest of the roster will look to sharpen their play on the court while gaining notoriety off the court. The goal is to win; everything else goes out the window when the ball is in the air for the opening tip for Ohio Men’s Club Basketball.

AUTHOR: Marc Goldstein

EDITOR: Robert Keegan III

COPY EDITOR: Addie Hedges

WEB DEVELOPMENT: Kofi Ampim-Darkoh