Thursday, November 10, 2005

Players: A 52-year-old college basketball player!

Here's a recent story from the Detroit Free Press to inspire us all. Maybe this guy can be Setshot's official spokesman.

Aging rookie gives college players run for their money

IRONWOOD, Mich. (AP) -- Gogebic Community College basketball players have a new incentive not to break team rules or skip practices: They might get benched in favor of a 52-year-old man.

Russ Maki, who is studying criminal justice at the Western Upper Peninsula school, has earned a spot on the roster as a walk-on.

"It's been a great experience, bonding with these younger guys," Maki told the Daily Globe for a story this week. He made a brief appearance in the Samsons' opening game Tuesday night but didn't score.

A long-ago member of the Wakefield High School squad, Maki played last year on a city league team with the Gogebic assistant coach, who encouraged him to try out. The head coach, Deke Routheaux, gave the OK.

"I was a little surprised he was willing to do this," Routheaux said Wednesday, adding that Maki was in "great shape."

There was one problem: Maki, who runs an insurance company, didn't attend Gogebic. So he enrolled as a full-time criminal justice major.

"Well, if the insurance business goes bad, I guess I can be a cop," he joked.

After working out with the team for a week, he decided he could keep up with the other guys and stuck with it, scoring nine points in a recent scrimmage.

Maki's life is hectic nowadays. Classes start at 8 a.m. He works at the insurance agency from noon until basketball practice, which ends at 5 p.m. Then he does homework and lifts weights for an hour.

He also squeezes in time for his wife and two daughters.

"It'd be nice to have 36 hours a day," he said.

Routheaux is noncommittal about playing time for Maki, but says he's a valuable addition to the team.

"He's an inspiration for the other players to work hard and be on time," Routheaux said. "They respect what he's doing and he fits in well with these guys, doing the little things right, playing hard. If he can get up at 6:30 in the morning, they shouldn't whine about it."

Maki said he shows up 30 to 45 minutes early for practice and tries to hustle during all the drills.

"I do it to show I can do it, and it seems like the players kind of follow suit," he said.

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