From no-name JV scrubs to respected varsity athletes, they bring energy to games
by Tim Miller
Cedarville basketball is in its best state in recent memory. In the first week of January, both the men’s and women’s teams were perched atop the G-MAC standings. There’s plenty of reasons to head to Callan to catch a game.
If you need just a little more motivation, look no further than the CU Towel Gang.
The role of the Towel Gang is to simply bring energy at the end of the bench and provide preparation help for starters and reserves for each game.
Composed of former JV athletes Adam Standley, Andrew Spurr and Andrew Stein, the three newest varsity members bring extra electricity to Cedarville’s bench each home game. Their patented celebration comes in the form of a hearty towel wave, and they’ve got a few tricks up their sleeve that you’d have to see to experience the full effect.
Along with current JV teammates Trevor Greenly and Will Brethauer, the CU Towel Gang movement began with the five struggling through a tough JV season.
“It all really started last year,” Stein said. “We played JV basketball together and had a really rough season. We took it kind of seriously last year. This year, we came with a more loose mindset.”
Stein and Standley each root for Division I programs that own founders of the Towel Gang movement. After identifying with the Division I benchwarmers, these two brought the movement to Cedarville.
At this year’s moonlight madness, the Towel Gang made its first appearance. Equipped with nothing more than a couple towels from the Rec Center and boisterous voices, the guys went nuts for their varsity stars during an intrasquad scrimmage and dunk contest.
This is when the varsity members latched onto the Towel Gang, Standley said.
The loose mindset and gritty nature prompted varsity players to rally around their newest rosterees. Unless the game is separated by 25 points or more, the Towel Gang shows up on the stat sheet as much as the kid in your hall who goes to the gym each day religiously, meaning they don’t show up at all.
However, their impact is clear according to head coach Pat Estepp, who was a JV basketball player for Cedarville himself in the 20th century.
“They have been tremendous and I love those guys,” Estepp said. “They embrace their job, and having selfless guys like that is special.”
The Towel Gang job description isn’t glamorous. Most of the work is done behind the scenes. The guys must memorize opponents’ offensive sets and tendencies and mirror them in practice. During practice, they get beat up by their bigger, stronger counterparts.
Their schedules are just as rigorous as a starter, so they must learn to balance school with basketball and all their other commitments. They do all the work of a scholarship athlete without earning a penny for their tuition charges.
“Having no scholarship is a big part of it. Non-scholarship players, those are our people,” Stein said.
The attitude of sporting a chip on their shoulder is something the members don’t take lightly. They recognize they can’t compete on the floor, but their journey from no-name JV scrubs to respected varsity athletes gives them the ability to stay hungry.
The Towel Gang has enjoyed watching role players blow out opponents this season, to the point where Spurr, Stein and Standley have seen playing time in two games. Spurr has made a free throw, Standley has taken a beastly charge and Stein corralled a rebound in two minutes of play this season.
Stein and Standley said the role players fight hard to get their chief motivators in the game. During halftime of a win over Campbellsville-Somerset, they said multiple players were motivating others to stay locked in so they could swell their lead high enough to get the Towel Gang in the contest.
And when they do, the jitters come right along. Stein and Standley said butterflies appear with about seven minutes left in a blowout. At that time, the guys know they must start stretching and jogging during timeouts, because their time is coming.
Playing time is few and far between, unfortunately. However, the guys understand seeing the floor isn’t why they’re with the team. They’ve accepted their role and continue to work to fulfill it.
“We bring the energy in practice and play hard when we get in. It’s all about bringing the energy for the guys on the floor and for the fans.”
The CU Towel Gang plugged their Instagram account, @CUTowelGang, where you can find nice edits by Brethauer and updates on the Towel Gang.
Tim Miller is a junior marketing major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, knowing too much about supplemental insurance, and striving to perfect the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.