Pacelli to hold basketball tournament April 4

Published 5:58 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2015

By Vince Muzik

For the Austin Daily Herald

Since 1984, a group of Pacelli alumni and current students have participated in a three-on-three invitational basketball tournament in honor of Danny Rysavy, a former Pacelli student – and friend to many – who died of cancer in 1984. Money raised from the tournament goes to the Rysavy scholarship fund and, each spring, a Pacelli senior who exhibits the qualities Danny had is awarded a scholarship.

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This year’s event will held 9 a.m. April 4 in the Pacelli High School gym.

This is will be the first tournament not under the stewardship of Mick Garry (PHS, ’81). Garry, a sportswriter in Sioux Falls, S.D., has relinquished the custodianship to the Rysavy family.

“There was some discussion that last year would be the last. But our family decided it was too worthwhile and too much fun to just let it go,” said Maddi Rysavy, a sixth grader at St. Augustines’s Grade School and the new spokesperson for the event.

Danny was a wrestler in high school, but he would’ve been appreciated by the real basketball players in the tourney named in his honor. In driveway games, rebounding and defense were his specialties. However, athletic skills aren’t required.

In fact, the unathletic are celebrated. Awards are given to the “most senseless” player, and the Isaac Newton, given to the player “most encumbered by gravity,” were long staples of the awards ceremony. While teams were picked for parity, parody often ensued.

While the event started ambiguously at the basketball hoops which once lined the St. A’s Church parking lot, the tourney didn’t become the Easter weekend must-do until 1987.

“We literally planned a party to go with it, and we held it out in the countryside at the Bustad’s house in southwest Austin,” Garry said. “We started playing at 7 a.m. and the last people left at 2 a.m. Easter morning. From then on, it just started to be this thing happening.”

The tournament has even spawned a marriage. Joe Christopherson (PHS, ’81) met Liz Pautz (PHS, ’85) at the tourney in 1988. They were married a year later and now have four kids.

“From the start, there’s been a core group of guys who’ve played. This year we should have a 40-year difference in players. People who knew my uncle to people who are my age (12 years old),” said the younger Rysavy, “My dad jokes it’s starting to look like a Rolling Stones concert, where people of all age groups show up and have a good time. Whether people play or not, we want people to come and just be part of it.”