Glenbrook North tradition: When taking a dive is a good thing

The Glenbrook North boys basketball team completes its warmups. There's the national anthem, the announcement of the starting lineups.

Then the Spartans gather in a circle on the court. A gap in the circle remains for one player.

He's standing nonchalantly over near the Glenbrook North bench.

Like Clark Kent out of a phone booth, senior guard Ryan Cohen takes off running toward his teammates. As he nears the circle he dives headlong, arms extended, and slides face-first into the circle.

Cohen, who's been the honorary huddle diver each of the past three seasons, is engulfed by his happy teammates.

It's contagious.

"I'm pretty sure there's a little bit of a cheer when I do it every time, especially with a home crowd," the 1,000-point scorer said after Glenbrook North beat Niles West 72-46 in Northbrook on Jan. 13.

"I think it pumps everybody up, it's kind of a good way to just get the energy flowing, start the game."

It's a Glenbrook North boys basketball thing.

But the sliding dive wasn't always a tradition. Spartans freshman boys coach Jordan Kardos, a 1997 Glenbrook North graduate, remembers a more typical pregame ritual. A darkened gym, a sweeping spotlight, the Alan Parsons Project's "Sirius" playing Chicago Bulls-style, a rowdy mass of players throwing elbows and pushing.

"I do remember running into a circle. The lights were out and guys were kind of beating up each other in this little huddle, we were getting fired up," Kardos said.

"I remember coming back to see my brother (Marcus) play a few years later, he graduated in 2003. (Jon) Scheyer was a freshman that year, and I remember seeing, I think, Scheyer sliding and diving, or maybe it was one of the other seniors, - Eytan Azaria, or someone like that - diving and sliding into that circle.

"I don't know when it was created, but I know they've been doing that for, I would guess, over 20 years," Kardos said.

From his time coming to games as a youngster, Cohen recalls seeing Scheyer, now head men's coach at Duke University, dive into that circle of teammates.

During Cohen's freshman season varsity team leaders Blake Lidskin and Nick Pavlovic chose him for sliding duties the next three years. He's run off with it.

"We kind of just followed the tradition, and we like it," Cohen said.

Kardos said the dive "seems very dangerous," but Cohen hasn't suffered any major contusions or road rash.

"I think I've gotten pretty good with the slide over the years," Cohen said.

"Sometimes when the court is a little harder or I land on my undershirt rather than my jersey I don't slide much, but it's all good. I've hit my chin a few times but - knock on wood - I've never embarrassed myself by sliding a little bit and just stopping."

This fun exercise in hype doesn't bother Glenbrook North coach Quin Hayes, who shrugged off any concern about injury to his veteran guard.

"If he gets hurt doing that, we've got a lot of problems," Hayes said with a smile.

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