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A Colorado basketball Thanksgiving

The Colorado men's basketball team laughs as head coach Tad Boyle talks about their upcoming game. at a men's basketball practice, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, in the Coors Events Center. The out-of-state Buffs will be spending Thanksgiving with their "other" family, the basketball team, this year. (Kai Casey/CU Independent File)
The Colorado men’s basketball team laughs as head coach Tad Boyle talks about their upcoming game at practice, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, in the Coors Events Center. The Buffs will be spending Thanksgiving with their “other” family, the basketball team, this year. (Kai Casey/CU Independent File)

Thanksgiving: a favorite holiday for Americans. A time of family, giving thanks and stuffing your face with all the food you can eat.

For the men’s basketball team at the University of Colorado, it’s a different story. Instead of returning home for a week off like other students, the players, already well into their season, must stay in Boulder to keep practicing.

George King, a freshman guard for the Buffaloes, said that spending Thanksgiving away from home is just part of the job.

“This is what I signed up for,” King said. “I knew it was going to happen. It’s just part of being a Division I basketball player. I’m not the only person in the world that has to be like this, but I think it’s going to pay off. We’re going to practice, and we’re going to get better as a team.”

For senior center Ben Mills, transitioning to celebrating Turkey Day without his family was challenging.

“It was difficult for me the first two years, freshman and sophomore year, but my junior and senior year I’m more used to it,” Mills said.

Other players, like freshman forward Dustin Thomas, will miss the day’s traditions. Every Thanksgiving, Thomas said that his family goes to four different houses for dinner.

“I guess I’ll miss some of the family food that I have every year,” Thomas said.

While all of the out-of-state players will be missing out on spending the holiday with their families, some with family in Colorado will get a quick break to go home.

Sophomore guard Brett Brady, from Highlands Ranch, will be driving down to reunite with his family.

“This is pretty much one of the last times we’ll have everyone,” Brady said. “My three nieces and nephews will be there.”

Mills said that for the players who aren’t able to go home for the holiday, “We all try to get together. If the other guys have plans — the Colorado guys go home and get together with their families — but all of us out-of-state guys just eat, be thankful for everything, and just have a good time.”

Mills, a Wisconsin native, said it will be a great time for the team to come together and eat good food.

“We’re going to host it at our apartment, so me, Spencer, Xavier Talton and Xavier Johnson,” Mills said. “We’re all going to cook some stuff and then everyone’s going to bring something of their own. It’ll be a team little Thanksgiving.”

Each member will bring a piece of home to the meal as the team celebrates Turkey Day together.

“We’ll be cooking here,” Dustin Thomas added. “I guess everybody’s going to call their grandma and get their favorite meal and just cook it. So we’ll all be throwing in, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Contact CU Independent staff writer Alissa Noe at alissa.noe@colorado.edu.

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