The Thrill of Thirds


Photo courtesy of @Willistonteams

Underestimated but talented, the boys thirds basketball team is set for a season of success.
With almost 75 boys trying out this year the program had an all time interest record. The school was able to field a varsity, junior varsity, thirds blue and green, as well as a fourths team.
Historically, Williston’s basketball program has well-deserved reputation. Stemming from the success of the varsity team, many of the lower squads find success as well.
Mark Conroy, Williston’s Athletic Director, as well as the Boys Thirds coach, acknowledged that coaching the team is a very unique task.
“Coaching the thirds team at Williston the past two years has been quite different because we have had 25-30 boys on the team! Most basketball teams have 15 tops!” Conroy, who has coached the thirds team on and off for the past 23 years, said. “This year we have 28 on our thirds team. We divide the team into two groups – blue and green teams – with 14 on each!
Combined, the blue and green teams’ record is 2-4. This past weekend the blue team beat Berkshire after losing to them earlier in the season. While the green team came back at halftime after being down 0-19. They ended the game with a final score of 24-23. Coach Conroy called it “one of the most exciting games I have ever coached.”
Luke Green, a freshman day student from Northampton Mass., said the team is very different from other teams he has competed on in the past.
“Unlike the other sports I play on, having fun and winning are equally as important and usually the more fun we’re having the better we play,” Luke, who has been at Williston since seventh grade, said. He explained that his “favorite part of the team is the fact that your teammates support you no matter your level of play.”
Basketball was first added as an official sport at Williston in the 1897 when a group of students wrote letters to the school asking to add it as a winter sport option. The school then decided to organize several basketball teams and a committee was appointed to make arrangements.
According to a 1974 edition of the Williston Bulletin, the start of basketball on campus was slow. The first coach that was appointed had never seen a basketball or even watched a game before. He explained that the team “bought a ball, two baskets, and a dozen guides from Spaulding, and Mr. [Charles] Upson had the floor in the old gym properly marked off for a court. I issued a call for candidates, and the dozen of us had ‘skull sessions.’ Finally we had a playing squad and a real team. We played ten games, won our three home games, and closed the season with something over ten dollars in hand.”
Since then Williston’s basketball program has blossomed into a space where players of all levels are able to have fun and compete. Since 2015 the program has sent 29 athletes to play in college; this number excludes the students in the class of 2023 who are still deciding on commitments.
First year sophomore Beckett Collins enjoys the lighthearted eagerness of the thirds squad.
“At my old school I was apart of the JV team and my experience this year has been drastically different,” he explained. “While being on the thirds team I have really enjoyed getting to play in an environment where everyone is very supportive and people strive to have fun.”
As the team looks forward to the rest of the season, both the green and the blue teams have some very competitive games approaching. They will compete against schools including Bement, Eaglebrook, Loomis Chaffee, and Kingswood Oxford.
As we reach the halfway mark of the winter season, Mathew Sawyer, one of the boys thirds coaches, is eager to see the team progress and “gel” and to “see some of the less experienced players improve their skill levels.”