HYPEMAN: Saving basketball from boring pregame introductions

No one is exactly sure what to call the players who participate in choreographed routines with their teammates in the introductions before the start of a basketball game, but the players are all hyped for handshakes.

HYPEMAN: Saving basketball from boring pregame introductions

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - You see them at every game.

They’re not the star players, or always the first guy off the bench.

In fact, they may not even get in the game at all.

But right before tip-off, they are the ones everyone is watching.

It’s the guy, or girl, who gives out the high-fives and handshakes during player introductions before the start of the game.

But there’s got to be a better, and more concise, and more universal name for that role, right?

“Umm, I don’t think so," UVA men’s basketball junior forward Austin Katstra said, with a smile. "I don’t think that there is. Maybe like ‘Handshake Guy,’ I don’t know.”

Teams all seem to have their own name.

Albemarle senior guard Hallie Garrison says, “We just call it, ‘The Handshakes,’ you know?”

“I guess ‘Hype-Up Man,’” says Western Albemarle senior Emma Herring.

AHS junior Sam Spears says, “They call me ‘The Handshake Man.’”

But there was one suggestion they mostly all liked.

“'Hypeman,'" says WAHS senior Angelo Garono, "you know what I mean?”

Avery Jordan says, “Yeah, yeah, the ‘Hypeman,’ yeah.”

'Yeah, we can go with ‘Hypeman,’ yeah," adds Katstra.

Spears differed, saying, “I like being ‘The Handshake Man.’”

Whether its 'Hypeman’ or ‘Handshake Man,’ the position is not usually assigned by a coach.

“I actually did it myself," says Jordan. "I just wanted to motivate my players.”

Garrison says, "Last year, I wasn’t starting on varsity, so I initially was like, ‘Hey, I’ll do it.’ And this year I got injured in the beginning of the season, so I was like, ‘Let me do it again.’”

Katstra added, “It was the first game, and no one was out there, so I said, ‘Alright, I guess I’ll do it then.’”

“Oh, I wanted to do it," proclaimed Spears. "I was like, ‘Hey, can I do this?’ And they said, ‘Ok, whatever, we don’t care.’”

But they all care about looking cool.

“In the beginning of the season, we all look at the NBA handshakes, and say, ‘Oh, what’s the cool ones?’” says Garrison.

The players all need to have their teammates’ moves memorized.

“Josh, we go Lebron," says Garono. "Lebron is my favorite player.”

Jordan demonstrates moves with his hand, saying, “We both do it like this, so like, yeah.”

“We go one-two, one-two, one-two, one, and then two,” adds Spears.

Herring says, “We have to get the whole, bah, bah, bam, up, shoulder, tap.”

And there is pressure to get it right.

Katstra says, "Jay (Huff’s) is probably not one of the more difficult one’s, but he does a one-two with his hands, and I always end up messing up, because I forget which hand comes first.”

“When we mess it up, it’s real funny," says Spears, "because I don’t want the players getting real nervous before the start of the game, so it’s, ‘Laugh it off, have a good time,’ you know?”

And if the Hypeman gets a chance to start, look out.

“I’m going to go crazy on my handshake," says Garono. "I get one of these my whole life!”

Spears says, “I’m definitely going to do something complicated. Something real cool. If I get to be in the starting lineup, I’m going to make sure it’s awesome.”

Of course, the sports world has experienced unprecedented change over the last week.

One year ago, the Cavaliers were beginning their run to their first-ever national championship.

This year, the NCAA Tournament has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

It remains to be seen what the future holds for the Hypeman in a time of social distancing.

Copyright 2020 WVIR. All rights reserved.