NU to tip off with traditional Alumni Game |

NU to tip off with traditional Alumni Game

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union


What: NU Men’s Alumni Basketball Game

Who: NU alumni vs. NU varsity

When: 6 p.m., today

Where: Albert Ali Gymnasium, NUHS

Admission: $3

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and while we may have football, food and family on our minds, hopefully not in that order, let us not forget that it’s also time to gather around the hardwood with family and friends to watch the Nevada Union Alumni Basketball Game.

Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. today at Albert Ali Gymnasium at Nevada Union High School, and admission is just $3 with all proceeds going toward NU’s basketball program. Concessions will also be available.

As always, the tradition of the game far outweighs the importance of who wins, but mostly, it’s the opportunity for players, young and old, to return to a place they once called “home” and embrace those around them in a classic game of hoops.

“It’s great with all these guys coming back to the community and giving themselves to the basketball program,” said NU boys basketball coach Jeff Dellis. “Some of the guys we have this year are Zach Spencer, John Wivholm, Josh Roenicke, a pro baseball player, Tyler Smith, the three-time league MVP — it’s a great roster, the who’s who of Nevada Union basketball.”

Also gracing the court with their presence will be 2003 graduate and baseball player Gary Daley, 2006 graduate Zach Wood, who works for LSU, 2006 grad Kevin Nelson, who went to Cal Poly and is now a local engineer, 2002 grad Guy Greever, who teaches P.E. and science and coaches basketball at NU, Joey Bratton, a 2003 graduate who owns and operates Fit Culture Studio and is married to Amanda Bratton, 2003 graduate Chad Smith, who went to Chico State and now works for Nevada County probation juvenile hall, 2005 grad Brennan McFadden, 2011 graduate Colin Lee, 1998 graduate Justin Anthney, 1992 graduate and NU basketball coach John McDaniel and 1982 graduate Mark Casey, this according to emails received by Dellis.

“It’s one of my favorite nights of the year,” added Dellis. “It’s a special night. A lot of kids played with me, coached with me, and now it’s a pleasure to have them back. They certainly have a special place in NU’s basketball heart.”

So many student-athletes have come and gone, some leaving their mark more than others, but to each one, their own NU means something different and tonight is a chance for them to relish the experience one more time. Of course, not everyone has wandered off too far though.

Pete Totoonchie, a 2001 Nevada Union graduate, went on to earn his degree from Concordia University, Irvine, and currently resides in Grass Valley, putting in his hours each week as the NU activities director. He married his NU sweetheart and now has two kids, Zeke, 3, and Aila, 8 months, said Totoonchie in an email.

Other alumni have journeyed farther away and have also excelled in life. Yet if there is a time to make the trek back to NU, it’s now, which is what 1997 graduate Paul Graebner is doing.

“I went to West Valley JC out of high school and played two years of basketball before transferring to Cal Poly where I majored in construction management,” said Graebner in an email. “Now I’m working for Gilbane Building Company in San Luis Obispo and Central Coast areas. I live in Paso Robles with my wife and two little boys.”

As for the competition for these alumni, this year’s varsity roster is up to the challenge but will definitely be put to the test.

“The 2013-2014 version (NU varsity team) is incredibly young,” Dellis said. “We have five sophomores, so we’re young and not as experienced. We have the athleticism and team chemistry on our side.”

The Alumni Game offers great entertainment in a family-friendly atmosphere that everyone in the community should be eager to be a part of, and for the alumni, the tradition goes beyond the final buzzer after the fourth quarter.

“One of the special things is that all of our players will be at the Turkey Trot the next morning and the Turkey Bowl two-hand touch football game later,” said Dellis. “It’s a pretty cool tradition they do.”

To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email

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