Creating brotherhood through basketball

By Libby Holden March 11, 2024

Photo of Michael Pappan, the Coordinator of Club and Intramural Sports at the University of Arkansas. Photo by Menghan Zhang.

The second-ever University Recreation Intramurals Basketball Champ Night happened Wednesday, Feb. 21 in Bud Walton Arena, featuring the fraternity matchup of Kappa Alpha and Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) with a final score of 39-33 FIJI.

“It’s good to see a lot of my buddies out on the court, out on the big stage,” junior Kappa Alpha member Houston Kimball said.

Bud Walton Arena hosts the perfect place for the champ night because it gives the players an electric environment to play in, especially in one of the most famous venues in college basketball.

Kappa Alpha claimed the part of the student section behind the basket while FIJI had the courtside part of the student section. Both sides went back and forth with their taunting chants, creating a competitive atmosphere.

Both the brothers of Kappa Alpha and FIJI dressed to impress for the champ night, with the frat coaches donning full pressed suits, accompanied by Crocs and flip-flops to finish off the attire.

Michael Pappan, coordinator for Club and Intramural Sports, said the crowds get much louder and prouder in Bud Walton than the HPER courts, specifically for the fraternities.  Over 500 people came to the fraternity championship game last year, and there were roughly 300 people in attendance for the fraternity game.

“The intensity was almost like we were having a full college game in the gym,” Pappan said.

Tate Sebghati, freshman FIJI member, said his personal MVP from the fraternity game was Ben “B.J.” Johnson because of Johnson’s pure athleticism. As Sebghati was being interviewed, Johnson drained a half-court shot during halftime, which Sebghati said further drove his point.

“We can pack the stands,” Sebghati said. “We can get a whole fraternity in here.”

On the opposing side, Kimball said the Kappa Alpha MVP who deserved that honor should be Harris Yaksick because he tore his ACL in the game before champ night. Yaksick was seen sitting on the bench alongside the coaches, supporting his fraternity team.

Kimball said he attends most Arkansas basketball games, and it was a special experience to get to see his friends on the court. He also said that the champ night gave him the opportunity to get closer to the front of the student section instead of further back, where he usually ends up.

One word that describes the performance of the FIJI team is persistence, Sebghati said. FIJI held a strong lead for the entire game, making large gains within the first few minutes.