Boys Basketball: Former Batavia players plan benefit for ex-teammate’s familydonnell collins/for the Beacon News Batavia's David Bryant gets bodied up by Geneva's Sean Grady during Wednesday night regional action at Batavia.
Updated: July 11, 2012 3:44PM
For 27 years, family was a big part of the Batavia boys basketball program directed by Jim Roberts. That family is coming together again this weekend to help one of their own.
“It’s for a very good cause,” said Roberts, who stepped down from the post due to family health matters earlier this year.
He was referring to Saturday’s Michael A. Newman Benefit Basketball Game that will be played at the high school starting at 6:30 p.m. About 40 former Bulldog players have committed to take part in the game, which will raise money for the two sons of former player Michael Newman, who died of cancer last November at 37.
The event will be preceded by Friday’s annual golf outing Roberts organizes to raise money for the basketball program.
“He was only 5-foot-7, 5-8 but a great shooter and he played with the heart of a lion,” Roberts said of Newman, who was a junior on the 1990-91 team that was Roberts’ most successful.
Those Bulldogs, featuring Corey Williams, Lamarr Justice, Brian Schwab, Eric Chock, Aaron Blomquist and Adam Lund, among others, went 27-2 and made it Downstate. Batavia beat Mt. Prospect 61-48 in the supersectional then bowed out of the IHSA Class AA State Tournament, losing 56-46 to Marshall in the quarterfinals.
Newman, who backed up Schwab at point guard, saw action in both those games.
“He was very heady with a great IQ for the game and did a great job of getting the ball to the other guys, plus, he was able to establish himself as a (scoring) threat,” remembered Thad Tousana, another of Roberts’ former players.
Tousana and teammate Karl Maves, who were members of Roberts’ first Batavia varsity team in the 1985-86 season, took part that year in a youth program the park district and school district combined to run and they coached Newman.
“Mike was one of the little kids in it with good ability and a hunger and desire to learn about the game,” said Tousana. “He also had a really infectious personality. I don’t think there was anyone who met him who didn’t become his friend.”
Tousana and Maves are part of the steering committee that has planned the benefit. Admission will be $5. T-shirts, at $10 each, will also be available.
“It’ll be a generational thing,” said Roberts, noting that Williams and Justice, among other Newman teammates, plan to take part.
“(Recent Northwestern grad) Nick Fruendt, (Lewis University players) Ben Potter and David Bryant and guys like Steve Eiland, Jay Kramer, Nick Barajas, among others, will be on hand.”