CHARLOTTESVILLE, V.A. (WVIR) - Charlottesville native Matt Palumbo is the latest team manager for the UVA basketball team to earn playing time on the court.
Palumbo played the final two minutes Sunday night in Virginia's blowout win over James Madison.
It came as a surprise to the former St. Anne's Belfield standout. Coach Tony Bennett put Palumbo in the scorer's book before the game, but didn't tell Matt.
Palumbo was in his team manager clothes when he got the call late in the game to go switch into a jersey to play.
On Monday, Palumbo recalled the surprising moment.
"It was at the 3:58 mark or something like that Ronnie comes up to me and says go throw on a jersey, I was like what? I looked at him and I was kind of confused," says Palumbo. "I was holding some bottles and I passed them back to another manager and then just sprint to the back lockeroom. I've never run that fast with dress shoes in my life. Threw on a jersey and comeback with two minutes left and got to play the last two minutes. You don't understand, I've been going to these games for years, since I was nine, ten years old. It's really a real dream come true for me and a surreal experience."
The former St. Anne's-Belfield star was wearing the over-sized #1 jersey, just like Grant Kersey did last year. Kersey made headlines last season when he went from team manager to part-time player.
After the game Sunday, coach Tony Bennett talked about Palumbo.
“He didn’t know we were even going to do that,” says head coach Tony Bennett. “We put his name in the scorebook. You have to do that before, or you’ll get a technical, so we put Grant’s name in, and Matt’s. Matt had no idea, and I said to Ronnie, because we’re short-manned, let’s have them run in and get their jersey’s on. (Palumbo’s) eyes were as big as they could get. He ran in there, and to be able to reward him, I talk about the true servants in our program, those who serve others well. That was awesome. I could see it in his eyes, his family, same thing with Grant. I just love that. That’ll be one of my favorite memories of my time here, to be honest.”