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Sorin residents continue ‘Monk Hoops’ tradition

| Wednesday, December 5, 2018

When former University President and current priest-in-residence of Sorin College Fr. Edward “Monk” Malloy started playing basketball with seminarians, he did not know that “Monk Hoops,” as the tradition is now known, would bring Sorin residents together today.

Malloy’s basketball career started in high school, when he played for the top school in the country at the time. He played on Notre Dame’s varsity team as an undergraduate, and did not stop with the sport when he graduated.

“Before I moved into dorms, I was on the staff at Moreau Seminary. I used to invite teams from campus to come over and play there against the seminarians,” he said. “We were pretty good, and they were always surprised.”

The tradition he started with the seminarians came with him to Sorin College when he moved into the dorm in 1980, Malloy said.

“When I eventually moved into Sorin, I thought I would reverse the tradition,” Malloy said. “So that was all we did. We’d gather in the front entrance of Sorin, walk over there together, play basketball, and walk back. There was no food or drink or anything supplied, just people who wanted to play basketball together.”

The simple tradition continues even now. Every Monday night, Sorin residents gather on the first floor and walk to Moreau Seminary to play basketball. Even though Monk Malloy no longer regularly attends, the tradition he started hasn’t changed much.

Sophomore Ben Walter, who has been a regular attendee of Monk Hoops since his freshman year, said the only difference now is that they sometimes bring a speaker.

“I would say especially at the beginning of the year, it’s just an event people can go to get to know the other guys and have fun. It’s a good, structured event you don’t have to plan yourselves, but you can just show up to. Everybody is there to have a good time with all the other Sorin guys,” Walter said. “At the beginning of the year, everybody goes to get to know people. It’s a lot more fun just kind of messing around. Towards the end of the year, it gets more serious. It’s still a lot of fun, though.”

Even though the group who regularly attends is generally the same week-to-week, the skill level varies and the competitive nature of the games is relatively low, Walter said.

“We just play based on the number of guys we have out there, and we’ll only just play to like 15 points or something,” Walter said. “They’re quick enough games to where we can switch it up so everybody has a good opportunity to play.”

Junior Matt Wilks transferred into Sorin last year, and partially credits Monk Hoops for the sense of community he feels within the dorm, he said.

“It was definitely — at least from the transfer perspective — one of the first times I was able to meet different guys, just playing basketball. That’s a really good way to meet a lot of people,” Wilks said.

In addition to making friends, Wilks said his participation in Monk Hoops enabled him to become even more involved in the dorm when he was recruited by some of his hallmates to join Sorin’s intramural basketball team.

Even though many of the players also participate in more competitive environments, such as intramural and Bookstore Basketball, Monk Hoops remains comparatively stress-free, Wilks said.

“It’s pretty casual, but people do keep score, so there’s still some competitive element to it, and if it’s a close game, people will get involved. But, overall, it’s generally pretty laid-back, which is nice,” he said. “We all study so much that it’s easy to get bogged down in things, but basketball’s a nice little stress reliever. Playing basketball’s just a different environment to see people in, which is nice.”

When asked about Monk, Wilks said he continues to be the force behind the tradition.

“Nobody calls it anything but Monk Hoops. It’s not like, ‘Hey, we’re going to play basketball.’ It’s like, ‘Hey, we’re going to Monk Hoops,’” Wilks said. “He’s definitely at the forefront of it.”

Walter said he agrees that Malloy’s lasting legacy is at the forefront of the tradition.

“We’re doing it in his name. He started a tradition that brings Sorin guys together once a week, so we’re grateful to him for that,” Walter said.

The sentiment reflected by Sorin residents now is similar to that of Sorin residents who were involved at the beginning.

“It just became a loved tradition. I liked it because it gave me a better chance to get to know the students, and especially if they have any athletic talent, you get a sense of their personalities and everything like that,” Malloy said. “I think most people who did it look back fondly on the friends they made and the competition they enjoyed.”

In addition to reflecting on the legacy of Monk Hoops, Malloy joked about the similarity between his presidency and the basketball tradition.

“It’s just like Notre Dame — [it] goes on and I’m not in charge anymore,” Malloy said. “Same thing with Monk Hoops.”

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