I know that this site usually only has stories about professional and NCAA collegiate sports but this story is one that should be told about how an intramural basketball team at Seton Hall University proved how sports never really are "just a game."
Many people participate in intramural sports for fun, pride, and the quest for the championship t-shirt. One team this season, JAM, had a lot more on the line.
JAM is an acronym that stands for Jessica Ann Moore, the student victim of the September 25 shooting only a few blocks from Seton Hall’s South Orange campus.
JAM won the B Division championship game on a buzzer beater with the score of 26-23, on March 20 in the Walsh Gymnasium. They faced a team, Real Men of Genius, which they had previously beaten earlier in the season in another single-digit victory.
Sophomore JAM captain and leading scorer throughout the season, Jon Frazier, said that the team felt Moore’s presence; they played the entire game with only five players and kept fighting for their win and their friend.
Sophomore Kevin Brooks twisted his ankle within the first five minutes of the game, but without any substitutes available, he continued to play through the injury.
The other members of the team who participated in the championship game were: sophomores Chris Bradley, Dominick Cuccinello, and Mike Klotz.
Klotz sank that last second three-point shot that decided the victory for JAM, and was the high scorer of the game with 17 points.
“I knew Jess was with me when we were down eight points with just less than three minutes to go in the game and I hit my first three-point shot,” Frazier said. “I looked over at the chair we set up before the game and told myself ‘Come on Jon, you can do this.'”
The empty chair which was set up at every game and sat on JAM’s bench symbolized Moore's being the team’s “sixth man.”
Frazier said that he decided to dedicate his team to Moore the first day he saw the intramural basketball sign-up poster; “she was on my mind that day in the gym.”
“Jess and I always went back and forth on who had a better jump-shot, and I knew that every shot I took this season was all for her,” Frazier said
The team ordered and wore bright orange shirts with JAM written on the front to remind themselves exactly who they were playing for.
Two shirts were also ordered for sophomores Melissa Silva and Julie Straubinger, who were friends of Moore's and attended all of JAM’s games to support the team.
Frazier said that the team knew that Moore was their main inspiration for the season but the shirts served as constant motivation.
The game had multiple lead changes, but JAM accomplished a goal that Frazier said his team had set from the beginning: to play and win in honor of Moore’s life, as well as of her memory.
The gym was the most crowded for this game, out of all the championships played that day. Many fans and friends of the players on JAM came out to the game on Sunday to cheer their team to victory.
One fan even videotaped the game-winning shot, available for viewing on YouTube.
“It meant a lot to me to have a group of people that respected the cause we were playing for,” Frazier said.