Basketball only part of big picture for Vervinators

BY MATT COZZI | APRIL 01, 2010 7:30 AM

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Teams that played the Vervinators during the intramural-basketball season probably didn’t know what was behind the team name.

For the squad composed of freshmen and sophomores, their relationship with the man upstairs is more important than anything that happens on the court.

The Vervinators, which competed in the Co-Recreational League this season, came together through a college ministry on campus. All the players on the team serve some role in Verve, a community of freshmen who get together every Monday to become closer to their religion.

Verve is a part of the Christian college ministry 24-7, which is associated with Parkview Church in Iowa City.

The men and women who attend Verve sessions every Monday night, usually at the Airliner, also participate in growth group, which includes Bible study among other activities. The event 24-7 occurs every Thursday night.

The ministry 24-7, which began in the fall of 1999, according the organization’s website, is a group of hundreds of university students and young adults. The main focus is targeting University of Iowa and Kirkwood Community College students and helping them develop a relationship not only as Christians but as people in general.

Scott Gaskill, the lead coordinator of Verve, said the main goal is to establish a population of first-year students who intentionally seek to know more about Christianity.

“We want it to be a place where freshmen on campus can come and build new relationships and grow in their knowledge of God and in the way that they live that out in their lives,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s a community and a place where people can ask questions about God.”

Sports are one result of formed relationships, hence the intramural basketball team that made the Co-Rec playoffs but lost in its second-round game on March 25 to Multiple Scoregasms.

Sophomore Jeff Simak, who is in his first year leading a freshman growth group, said playing basketball is just another way to grow closer to his peers.

“We spend an hour together on Monday nights and then on Thursdays and that could be it,” Simak said. “Getting another day throughout the week to spend time together for basketball really helps. It’s a way to continue those friendships.”

Simak, along with several other leaders, also attend Verve every Monday as part of their 24-7 leadership commitments. Bryan McGinn, who is also in his inaugural year leading, said basketball overshadows what kind of community they have every Monday night along with 24-7 as a whole.

“This is special, because it’s a big group of people who can get together in smaller communities,” he said. “One way of doing that is getting a group of guys and girls together and have a basketball team.”

Gaskill said he likes seeing the 24-7 contingent branch out to other activities on campus, particularly in the form of the Vervinators.

“They have outstanding basketball abilities, yes, but the men and women on the team are of character,” he said. “The men and women on the team love Jesus, and because of that, I think it affects not only the way they play basketball but the way they live life.”

Despite the team’s early Field House exit from the intramural postseason, players hope to make a possible comeback next year.

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