Team manager makes buzzer beater ending 100 point game

Emma Ruby

Alexandra Akes

Loyola mens’ basketball team manager, Sam Ater, isn’t used to watching the game from anywhere but the sidelines, but that changed on Tuesday night.

At the Wolfpack’s home game against Blue Mountain College, the fan-packed Den started to chant “we want Sam.” Moments after, the manager ended the game with a 3-point buzzer beater shot that followed with a frenzy of fans rushing the court to celebrate.

“The shot was coming down and I was thinking, ‘there’s no way,’” said Ater. “I shot it, watched it go down and then everything blacked out.”

As team manager for the Loyola mens’ basketball team, Sam Ater has a normal role. He runs drills with the team, does team laundry after games, and completes a variety of daily tasks for the team.

“Anything that we need behind the scenes, Sam’s done for the last two years. Our guys absolutely love him,” said Head Coach Stacey Hollowell.

Two weeks ago after a game was over, Ater brought up what he would do if he was ever in a game. The idea alone planted a seed for Hollowell. He began to work on getting Ater eligible for a game as a ‘thank you’ from the team for everything he’s done as manager.

“Tuesday afternoon we got him certified and able to play in the game,” said Hollowell. We put him in with about 5 minutes left and the guys were trying to get him shots. Right at the end of the game he took off down the court and our point guard passed to Sam and he hit the shot. The place went completely nuts.”

Ater, a junior vocal performance major, went to Hollowell his freshman year and asked to become part of the team in any way he could. As a high school basketball player, Ater just wanted to be around the game.

“They treat me like one of the players and I just love them to death. It’s just something that means a whole lot to me that everybody is so including even though I’m not necessarily on the court with them always,” said Ater.

Ater’s shot was celebrated by a full crowd of fans, and videos of the moment and the celebration afterwards started to gain popularity on social media.

“Other than being tackled, it was just so surreal. I was still doing my job and just doing the laundry after the game and I kept getting notifications and calls from people and it felt just beyond what I could’ve imagined,” said Ater.

Loyola fans and players at the game built the momentum by starting a chant to have Ater be put into the game, according to Hollowell.

“Our guys play with a lot of energy anyway, but to have that extra support, the feeling in the gym is just electric,” said Hollowell. “It was Sam’s moment. Everybody was celebrating him, and it just felt like that was supposed to be Sam’s night.”

Aidan McFate, a sophomore music industry studies major, regularly goes to Loyola basketball games to support the team.

“This energetic team is very strong all-round. Me and my friends like to bring our Loyola flag to hype up the teams and fans, we believe this team 100% has the potential to win it all,” said McFate.

McFate was in the crowd with his friends and cheered on Ater as he was brought into the game and hit the game-ending 3-pointer.

“Everyone wanted Sam to get a bucket because he is just an all-round great person,” said McFate. “Once he made that buzzer beater, everyone stormed the floor piling up on top of him. This was the perfect ending to the game which also gave Loyola 100 points in the game.”

Despite the attention Ater received after his 100 point marking shot, he accredits the Wolf Pack for the experience.

“It’s really about the team’s success. Coach didn’t have to do that, yet that was an opportunity he presented to me and I’m so grateful for that and everyone who was supporting me at that time,” said Ater.