After every home game, the men’s basketball team returns to a much quieter Mott Gym to meet and mingle with family, friends and, of course, significant others.
Senior forward David Hanson has taken part in this postgame ritual for the past four seasons and said this year is special because of increased home fan support.
“Once the game’s over with, win or lose, I think it’s important that we’re respectful, and we thank our fans,” Hanson said. “It’s easier when we do win, but regardless, it’s important to be able to shift gears.”
When the final buzzer sounds, coaches and players shake hands with the opposing team then retreat to the locker room, where head coach Joe Callero makes his closing remarks.
The transition from intense basketball players to calm, typically-exhausted college students, is one assisted by hot showers, clean clothes and if necessary, ice buckets.
“When the game’s going, they’re really committed and driven to whatever they can do to help the team win,” assistant coach Mitch Freeman said. “Once it’s over, the chance to see family and friends is exciting for guys.”
In addition to friends and family, several men’s basketball players are awaited by their girlfriends, who sophomore forward Chris Eversley said teammates refer to as, “The Basketball Wives,” after a reality show on VH1 featuring the wives of NBA players.
According to multiple sources close to the team, half of the 15 players currently maintain serious relationships. Hanson said the correlation between Mustang basketball players and relationships may have to do with an older team this year, or more likely, it is a just coincidence.
Eversley, who is currently dating fellow student athlete and junior reliever for the Cal Poly women’s softball team Trista Thomas, said stability is one of the major appeals a relationship might have for a student-athlete.
“When you’re both athletes, you’re on the same schedule, and you understand if I’m gone this weekend, it’s not a lack of time or anything like that.”
Callero, always a willing adviser and teacher, said he tries to keep an appropriate distance from his players’ love lives, like his father did for him when he was in college.
“As a coach, you don’t want to be too involved with your players on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “They have to have some space to be who they are.”
This Valentine’s Day the Mustangs will travel to CSU Northridge for their game on Wednesday night. Eversley said he and some other teammates with girlfriends celebrated the holiday on Sunday — their day off.
Callero and his wife, who are used to being apart for holidays, will celebrate Valentine’s Day either before or after the road trip.
As far as presents go, Callero is off the hook after his wife picked out a jacket while they were out shopping last month and told him it was his Valentine’s gift to her.
“I guess that’s the advantage of being in a 15-year marriage, she can just tell me what I’m getting her.”
Family and friends also make sure to show their love and support at the postgame rituals. Eversley said seeing the faces of family and friends — his own, as well as his teammates’ — makes him feel better, regardless of the game’s outcome.
“When you win it’s a positive to build to a positive, and when you lose, it picks your spirits up a little bit,” he said.
Eversley also said his father taught him some things in life are more important than basketball, so he tries to leave any emotions for the game on the court.
“When I come off the floor, people should not be able to tell if I won or lost the game,” he said.