Michigan Men’s Basketball Coach John Beilein Gives Grand Rapids Student His Day On Court [Photos]
As a student manager for the University of Michigan basketball men's team, Ryan Kapustka has found his volunteer position to be rewarding as it gave him the ability to see the Wolverines with an up close and personal perspective.
But on Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor, it got closer and more personal.
It's been a trying season for coach John Beilein and the Wolverines. Injuries have decimated the club, leaving them shorthanded for games and practices.
Freshmen student managers Ryan Kapustka, a Grand Rapids native and Northview High School graduate, and Jon Rubenstein, from New Jersey, saw their normal duties of hanging up jerseys and handing out drinks expanded to include donning practice jerseys.
Beilein found out both were pretty good high school players, and invited to help fill out the practice roster. And so, for the final month of the season, Kapustka and Rubenstein began scrimmaging with the varsity, helping them to prepare for the opposition's offensive and defensive schemes.
On Sunday, as a reward for helping him out, Beilein told the pair to suit up for the season's final game against Rutgers.
While Kapustka and Rubinstein were ecstatic just to go out and shoot lay-ups with the team in pregame warm-ups, in the waning moments of a 79-66 Michigan victory over Rutgers their experience went into full Rudy mode.
With the game under control and just 55 seconds left, Beilein signaled for Rubinstein and Kapustka and put them in the game.
"A day I'll remember for the rest of my life," Kapustka told The Ann Arbor News/MLive Media Group. "It was pretty crazy walking in the locker room and seeing my name on the back of a jersey. It was indescribable to put on the actual uniform that I've been watching for so many years."
Rubenstein was just as giddy following the win.
“It’s a dream come true to put this uniform on, to hear the announcer and the fans. It’s everything you dream as a little kid.” he told The Michigan Daily.
After Rubenstein and Kapustka had left, Beilein stepped to the podium for his post-game news conference.
“This was a very unique year,” he said, “and a unique way to finish it.”
WHEN @RKapustka GETS IN THE GAME!!!!!!!