Staff and faculty shoot hoops and build camaraderie


Mingda Wu

The NIU Recreation Center’s new sign on Thursday. NIU Recreation is reviving a program where faculty and staff can play pickup basketball games. (Mingda Wu | Northern Star)

By Joseph Howerton, News Reporter

DeKALB – NIU’s Recreation Center is seeking to revive an old tradition – shooting hoops with faculty and staff.

NIU faculty and staff are encouraged by NIU Recreation to take part in basketball pickup games at noon Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at the NIU Recreation Center.

Emily Payne, assistant director for recreation facilities, said these pickup games were a normal pastime even before she was employed back in 2019. Faculty and staff would get together during their noon off-hours to play pickup games of basketball. A court would be reserved for employees noon to 1 p.m. due to their schedule being more limited than students’.

It was all fun and games until the COVID-19 pandemic caused public spaces to shut down. NIU Recreation is attempting to bring back these games to promote physical activity and build camaraderie between staff and faculty.

Payne said there are some difficulties in reviving the event; NIU staff having switched to working remotely and newer employees not knowing about the program

Participant numbers have not been consistent, and players are unable to start a typical five-on-five game, Payne said. March 30 had four participants and March 28 had no participants.

Despite this, low numbers have not stopped faculty and staff to take part in fun activities with their co-workers. Though participants on March 30 couldn’t play a game of basketball, they instead opted to play pickleball.

Payne said pickleball, volleyball, tennis, racquetball and badminton are available options for participants. The focus is less on basketball and more on meeting people and building a healthy lifestyle.

“Meet new people, obviously make some friends and then also have a chance to find people that have your same interests,” Payne said. “It’s always great to have some fun while you’re getting your exercise in.”

Pickup games are open for free to NIU faculty and staff to participate or watch, no sign-up is required.