UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | November 11, 2022

St. George firefighters, police officers hit the court for charity

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St. George firefighters and police officers played until the last buzzer sounded to finalize the cure for starving students.

The Criminal Justice Club organized a charity basketball game and found a way to connect the St. George community with Dixie State University Wednesday night at the Wednes “D” activity. Attendees were welcomed into the gym when bringing a non-perishable food item for the Starving Student Pantry at Dixie.

“It’s something we’ve been talking about for the past year, and we just thought, ‘Let’s just do it; let’s bring the St. George police department and fire department together and have a friendly competition,” said Esther Pugmire, criminal justice instructor and club adviser.

The game began, and the professions of the players showed while the police officers stayed around the perimeter shooting 3-pointers, and the firemen took control inside the paint with strong rebounds and layups.

“(The cops) are usually the guys who have to run people down,” said Brandon Vandermyde, a volunteer firefighter. “We’re the guys who have to bust open doors and pull people out. It’s the job; they’re required to run a lot more, and we’re required to lift a lot more.”

Vandermyde said the game was a mix of both a relaxed and competitive environment.

“We’re all in pretty good shape, but not necessarily in basketball shape, so there were times when we all were pretty competitive and there were times we were lazy, sitting back and watching the show,” Vandermyde said.

Volunteer firefighter Chris Sparks said the game began more laid back, but it became more competitive in the fourth quarter when the game was tight and technical fouls were made. Vandermyde was angry about a referee call in the fourth quarter, so he grabbed the basketball and threw it to the ground, laughing it off later with his teammates.

“He was pretending not to be competitive and not be upset, but I’ve played with him in other games, so those were his true colors,” Sparks said.

Sparks said it is in their nature as police officers and firefighters to be competitive, but the men had a good time at the event.

“It was a good opportunity to get outside of the workplace and in a more relaxed environment to build relationships with the guys you associate with, and it’s also a good cause,” he said. “Next year, get us on the good gym where the superstars play.”

The police officers took the 70-69 win and the trophy.

Stacey Allen, a senior CIT major from Bountiful and Criminal Justice Club president, said the motivation behind this event was to help fill the Starving Student Pantry for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Pugmire said the event was more successful than she had originally planned. The club ended the night with 65 cans for the pantry.

“I just think it’s going to get better and better every year, and I think, considering how much time we had to put this together, we had [a] really good turnout, really good participation with both of the departments… and I hope we can get more students out and get [them] more involved,” she said.

The club plans to host this event annually, and it hopes for growth throughout the year.

“I’m just really grateful, I’m excited, and I really hope we can have this friendly competition in the future and pass the trophy back-and-forth,” Pugmire said.