"Noonball” is an ongoing tradition and the pinnacle of pickup basketball at Gonzaga University. Played at lunchtime Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Rudolf Fitness Center (RFC), you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more active and competitive set of courts any other time.
“A lot of guys who come to GU do love basketball,” said senior Jake Hansel. “They played in high school and had aspirations of playing college, but that competitive spirit never died so they’re going to find a way to channel it and a lot of those guys channel it playing noon ball.”
Noonball has been put on hiatus for the time being as the RFC has closed their courts due to COIVD-19.
Noonball starts with teams shooting to get on the courts and then games are played to either 11 scored by ones and twos, or to 15 and are scored by twos and threes. Often, two to three of the courts within the RFC fieldhouse are dedicated for these games’ use and it begins a “king of the court.” You play to move up to the king court and try to stay there as long as possible.
Noonball occurs at a unique time as there are fewer classes in-session, giving more students the opportunity to participate.
With the influx of people due to the lack of classes, it becomes one of the few times where all three courts are used for basketball. Even with the full use of the courts, on fast days students may have a large group of people waiting to play in the next game.
For a lot of the players it is no surprise they started playing noon ball.
“As a student it is probably something you take for granted in having somewhere to that high level of basketball without having to pay to have refs,” said GU alum and Next Gen Tech Bar staff member Ish Teshome.
Noonball isn’t limited to the students at GU. Former players including Gary Bell Jr. and Eric McClellan are known to have played in the past. Even faculty such as assistant professor of physics Matthew Geske and accounting professor Eddy Birrer have also been seen playing.
Hansel said that whenever noonball is happening everyone starts racing to make teams and form the best “super team” possible. Hansel said that the community is very accepting and full of camaraderie.
“It’s always fun bringing the freshman under our wing, as they brought me under their wing,” Hansel said.
Teshome said he understands that the games may be intimidating between the competitiveness and skills of the players but that he encourages people to come.
“Even if you don’t know how to play, people can still get in there and have a good time” Teshome said.
The noon ball community even extends beyond just the games during it.
"You may see people lifting together before and after games," Hansel said. "It also provides a good way to get experience and connections for the club basketball team.
Teshome and Hansel both said Mission Park was a potential home for noonball during the closure, but it is hard to play basketball while socially distanced and that it wouldn’t be able to live up to the style of noon ball that frequent players are used to.
“[Basketball] is one of the main things I was hoping the RFC would handle,” Hansel said. “There haven’t been any outdoor opportunities that the RFC or Gonzaga has done.”
Although there is no idea of when noonball will return, you can expect that when it does the players will come in full force to continue the ongoing tradition.