PAPUBA player Mr. Day, a ten year veteran known for his shooting abilities, looks to attack the basket.  Photo: Zack Kaminsky
PAPUBA player Mr. Day, a ten-year veteran known for his shooting abilities, looks to attack the basket. Photo: Zack Kaminsky

Early in the morning each Friday, the sound of basketballs bouncing on a hardwood floor can be heard on the Pace campus. Pace’s finest underground society, the Pace Academy Pickup Basketball Association, commonly referred to as PAPUBA, holds its weekly sessions in Boyd Gym before many students are even awake.  Led by veterans Jonathan “J-Day” Day, Wes and Matt Fortier, Kevin Ballard and Jason Smith, PAPUBA has mastered the art of fundamental basketball and shared it with the rest of the school.

The mysterious history of PAPUBA is only really known by a select few. Legend has it that PAPUBA was founded in 1966, the year Boyd Gym was built, when then-headmaster Frank D. Kaley and Athletic Director Bob Chambers laced up their Chuck Taylors, put on their short shorts, and began their historic battles on the hardwood. According to current PAPUBA commissioner Jason Smith, these stories are myths. “An English teacher used to be here named Mr. Plaehn, and he and I started it because we just wanted to play basketball,” said Mr. Smith. “There were 10 or so people playing regularly for the first couple years, but then it dropped one year to just the two of us because nobody would get up early.” Soon after, the arrival of Mr. Day and the Fortier brothers sparked higher attendance rates and revitalized the association.

Although faced with challenges and hardships, PAPUBA’s resiliency has kept it alive as possibly the best extracurricular activity at school. Even after the loss of legendary Hall of Famer Charles “Kobe” Brubaker and the rise of Thursday Morning Volleyball, PAPUBA managed to stay relevant. The spirit of PAPUBA is infectious, and at times games can get intense. “Mr. Smith and I have been guarding each other for about 10 years, so it’s kind of like playing against your brother,” said Mr. Day. “Incidentally, that’s the other rivalry: Matt and Wes.” According to Mr. Day, the two try not to guard each other when possible. “It gets into this really big sibling rivalry and they get really mad at each other,” said Mr. Day.

As part of the organization’s rich history, PAPUBA retains a couple of traditions. One is the weekly emails, which range from poetic pieces to trivia to a simple, “Yes, there is PAPUBA.” The other, as Commissioner Smith explained, is that he and Mr. Day always choose teams. “We try to make it as even as possible, which means a Fortier guards a Fortier and I guard Mr. Day.”

Whether students are looking for a break from work or want to take their favorite teacher to school (pun intended), PAPUBA is the place to be on Friday mornings. As always, 6:30 a.m. in Boyd Gym. All are welcome, even Elijah Holifield.

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