“We talked about madness in March — this is as mad as it gets!”
The game announcer summed up the electricity in the Gonzaga College High School gymnasium Wednesday night as the Home Court Charity Basketball Game went into a second overtime. “Hill’s Angels,” made up of members of Congress and staffers, were tied with Georgetown faculty aka the “Hoya Lawyas,” at 41 points a piece. Next basket would win. Within minutes, the Hoya Lawyas sunk their shot, coming from behind to win their first game in several years. The crowd of mostly Georgetown Law students went nuts.
“It was sad to see the way the score was this evening, but it was a win for everyone tonight,” Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., said after the game. “A fun event, a great fundraiser, over $600,000 raised for an important cause.”
The 28th annual Home Court Charity Basketball Game benefited the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and raised more than $621,000 for the nonprofit organization. The night also included a tribute to the Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill., who died in November at the age of 63. Evans served as the “Hill’s Angels” captain for 13 years.
Unlike some other congressional sporting events, Democrats and Republicans played on the same team Wednesday night, serving as an opportunity for some bipartisan bonding following a long day of budget debates .
Luján, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the game is “a great time for Democrats and Republicans to get together, us playing together as a team. And it’s fun. We should do more of this.” He later added, “You’re on the same team standing up for each other. You saw a lot of high fives tonight, a lot of ball passing.”
The other lawmakers who played for Hill’s Angels included Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Reps. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., Cedric L. Richmond, D-La., Jeff Denham, R-Calif., Ryan A. Costello, R-Pa., and Robert J. Dold, R-Ill. The lawmakers held their own during the game, with help from a few ringers.
One Hill staffer who dominated on the court was Luján’s deputy chief of staff and communications director, Drew Stoddard, who played basketball in high school. At one point in the first overtime, Stoddard and Nate Mensah, a Georgetown Law fellow and a ringer for the Hoya Lawyas, sunk back-to-back three pointers.
“It’s always fun to get out and run around and meet some new people that you work with on the Hill with, but you haven’t met otherwise,” Stoddard said after the game, noting he hopes to play in the game again.
Stoddard said it was a “heartbreaking way to lose” but that it was a fun experience. Huelskamp, who was a co-captain of the team with Casey, said it was the first time the team had lost in the five years since he has been playing. But the Kansas Republican still enjoyed the game, and his son Athan played with him, while his younger son Alex was the team manager.
“For us it’s like one game to have some fun. But for people living on the streets, it’s the difference of life or death for some of them,” Huelskamp said after the game. “That’s what I hear from the folks at the legal clinic.”
Benefiting the legal clinic is why Eleanor Erney, chairwoman of the Georgetown Law group “Home Court,” which puts on the game each year, has been helping to organize the game since her first year at law school. Erney is a third-year law student from Columbus, Ohio, and said she relished the opportunity to give back to her adopted city.
“A lot of what we do in law school is think about how, as lawyers, we can really contribute to the city that we live in,” Erney said after the game. “And the Legal Clinic for the Homeless is by far the best example of that in the city that I’ve ever seen.”
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