Normally I would have held some antipathy for the guy who kept draining threes in my face. But it was hard to hate this man. Maybe it was the fact that he never said a word save for his ridiculously deep laugh, “HUHUHUH.” Or maybe it was the fact that he came to the courts every day for long enough to make you wonder if he had ever submitted an assignment.
Billy McGahan ’20 (pronounced, Mc-gahn, not Mc-Gay-han, the latter of which I called him for two years without him ever correcting me) and I had the kind of strange friendship that can only develop through sports: the unspoken nods; the conversation during a shoot-around in which sentences are broken up by each shot taken and each rebound corralled; the reliance on his three-point shot when you’re down two; the frustration when it’s your team that saw its two-point lead become a one-point deficit.
In time, our friendship carried outside the Lanman Center lines. Billy joined the same fraternity as I did. Next year, he will be the president of it. We have the Lanman courts to thank for that.
Another friendship that developed at Yale began outside the Lanman lines. The housing lottery placed Bojan Dosljak ’19 and me together at the beginning of our Yale careers. At that point, Bojan was on the men’s heavyweight crew team. We were friends, but not particularly close. Out of simplicity, we decided to live together again sophomore year. In that year, he quit crew. And, looking for a new place to workout and new people to meet, Bojan began playing intramural basketball at Lanman. He had quite literally never played a sport with his hands; and I am also pretty sure he had never moved laterally — ever. We would go to the courts for pickup games, play one on one, practice pick and rolls, all in the hopes of trying to force his hands and feet to realize they were connected.
And we played for Trumbull. We played for the college that had randomly placed us together. Through that awkward exchange of oars for basketballs, Bojan and my relationship with each other — and to our college —blossomed. It forced Bojan to meet new people in the college in which he had spent so little time. It forced us to compete against other colleges, whereby we felt more ingrained in our own. It was a unique kind of fun having a 6-foot-4-inch guy on your team in intramurals at Yale; but it was even more fun when he looked tiny getting run over by Foyesade Oluokun ’18 (now a linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons).
I also played for Trumbull with Ted Mauze ’18. He, like me, was recruited to play soccer. He, like me, had injuries that forced him to leave the team. When I was a senior, he was the soccer player who showed me New Haven, who convinced me to come to Yale. But we never got to play together. We were best friends anyway; but the Lanman courts were the place we finally got to be teammates.
In my freshman year, the older members of my fraternity, took me under their wing, asking me to run pickup with them. Trey Turner ’16, Alex Hagermoser ’17, Will Bernstein ’18, Henry Cassriel ’18 and I formed a formidable starting five. Without soccer, these guys became my de facto team at the Lanman courts and made the transition to Yale infinitely smoother.
If home is where your people are, then Yale would not have been home without the Lanman courts.
Kevin Bendesky | firstname.lastname@example.org