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Stairwayto7
03-08-2009, 08:42 AM
at a school near you!

By Mike Bires, Times Sports Staff
Published: Thursday, March 5, 2009 12:04 AM EST
If you loved the Pittsburgh Steelers on the football field, you’re bound to love them on the basketball court.

Yes, many of those Super Bowl champion Steelers like to show off their hoops skills. They do so in a series of fund-raising games each winter and spring held throughout western Pennsylvania.

“Not only are these guys good football players, but they’re also good athletes,” said Tom O’Malley, the president of a Pittsburgh-based insurance company who’s been coaching the Steelers’ basketball team since 1970. “So it should come to no surprise that they’re pretty good at basketball, too.”

The Steelers’ basketball team started an ambitious 66-game schedule on Friday at Ellwood City High School. It plays two to four games a week.

Providing the opposition for them are pick-up teams of comprised of faculty, coaches, athletes, employees or celebrities chosen by the school or charity staging the event.

In a given season, between 30 to 35 Steelers will agree to participate for at least a few games pending their schedules.

On any given night, O’Malley never knows who’s going to show up for a game. But there’s a gentleman’s agreement among players that as many as seven to 10 Steelers must show up for each game.

“It’s really a good time,” said Ambridge athletic director Randy Cosgrove, who’s helping arrange basketball games against the Steelers for his school as well as Cornell. “Because the Steelers are so popular, the games are always sold out. It’s just a great chance for fans to see these guys up close without their uniforms on.”

One of the best basketball players among the Steelers is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was a three-sport star in high school. He plays in about 15-20 of the games.

“A couple years ago at Ambridge, Ben did something that really turned the crowd on,” Cosgrove said. “At one point as he was running down the court, he just ran up into the stands and sat down with some of the fans.

"Then someone threw him a ball, and, from the stands, he threw up a shot that went in. The place went crazy.”

Among other Steelers who play hoops well are defensive end Brett Keisel, wide receiver Hines Ward, cornerback Deshea Towsend, quarterback Chalie Batch and even linebacker James Harrison, the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.

Tickets for Steeler basketball games are $7 each.

And at halftime at each game, the Steelers playing that day will autograph one item per boy or girl.



LOCAL SCHEDULE

March 11: Riverside High School

April 11: Cornell High School

April1 16: Robert Morris University

April 22: Ambridge High School

May 12: Beaver Falls

I went to one of these games many moons ago! It was good time, and all the kids got autographs, it worth the $7, especially with Ward, Keisel, and Harrison