By Casey Chafin | The Duquesne Duke
As basketball season approaches, many Duquesne fans are looking forward to watching team leaders like Derrick Colter and Micah Mason carve up opposing defenses.
But behind the stars of the team is a group that often gets overlooked: the walk-ons.
Walk-ons are athletes who do not receive scholarships to be on the roster, but play a distinct role in the overall team dynamic.
Nick Foschia, a walk-on senior, is looking forward to his final season with the Dukes and fellow walk-ons.
“As a group of walk-ons, we’re kind of like the behind-the-scenes crew,” Foschia said. “So during practice, we’re kind of the guys that set [the rest of the team] up for success.”
Sophomore walk-on David Haus explained exactly what goes on “behind-the-scenes.”
“Our job as a walk-on isn’t necessarily playing time,” Haus said. “I guess my personal goal is showing up every day, working as hard as I can and supporting the team whichever way I can.”
One of the ways they support the team is by scouting opposing teams and learning their plays to replicate in practice.
Foschia said they will typically learn about 10 plays before each game, and it gives the starters a chance to face it so they know what to expect when they see in-game action.
“After we play one game, the next day we have to learn a whole new set of ten more plays … You have to memorize that and our own plays, so it’s kind of hard,” Haus said.
As far as expectations for this year, all three players have their sights set on the same goal – to win the A-10 championship and make the NCAA tournament.
“I want [the team] to compete in the A-10 tournament, I want this to be the year we win the whole thing. And I think we can do that, we just have to be tough,” said Marshall Macheledt, a walk-on sophomore forward.
Last season, Haus led the three walk-on players with 28 minutes played on the year. Foschia played 18 and Macheledt got 10. Despite limited playing time, the guys have had multiple games to put up numbers. Foschia played in 10 games total, while Haus saw time in 11.
Although they don’t play in every game, they still enjoy going to the matchups and traveling with the team.
“Last year, we had our good times on the bench,” Haus said. “We made some cool celebrations, that’s what we look forward to in games.”
Foschia says the walk-ons are proud of their role on the team.
“We actually pride ourselves on that,” he said. “We try to be the best bench in the NCAA. The main one that kind of got us going is the field goal celebration.”
This involved Foschia as the snapper and Haus as kicker during that celebration. Another celebration included a bowling one in which Foschia rolled an imaginary ball at his teammates who lined up as bowling pins.
Foschia said they have a couple new ones to unveil this year, but he refused to give any spoilers.
“We’re probably going to bring them out during the Pitt game, because we like to bring them out in big crowds to get us going,” he said.
Foschia also stated they like to keep track of what other benches around the country are doing by watching celebration compilation videos on YouTube.
“Honestly, some of them are sub-par compared to ours. We just don’t get as much national attention as everyone else.”
“That’s why we’re hoping we do well this year,” Haus said. “If we do well this year, then that helps us out.”