Upon transferring in from a Division III program in 1997, Andy Marx did all he could to impress Illini basketball coaches during walk-on tryouts.
And he succeeded.
Just not quite the way he originally had in mind.
“After playing collegiate basketball at Benedictine University and transferring to Illinois my junior year, Huff Hall is where I attempted to walk on to the U of I men’s basketball team in 1997,” says Health Alliance's director of provider contracting (BA '00, economics).
“Tryouts were great, I made the cut to the final scrimmage, but I didn’t make the team. The following day, Theresa Grentz invited me to practice against the women’s team along with a group of other guys that attempted to walk on to the men’s team.
“We had a talented group of guys that practiced every day against the women’s team. I would go on to learn from a Hall of Fame coach and enjoyed all of the relationships I built with the women’s players and coaching staff. I remain in contact with several of them today.”
Five other favorite Marx spots from those days:
1. The Clybourne. “I must rank this spot number 1 during my years at the U of I; otherwise, I would be in trouble. It was at the Clybourne where I met my wife.
“Two kids and 21 years later, here we are. Sadly, the building and bar don’t exist as it is now the construction site of another future apartment complex.”
2. Ubben Basketball Practice Facility. “I was able to experience this new facility the year it opened while helping Theresa Grentz in my second year as a practice player.”
3. Grainger Engineering Library. “Although I wasn’t an engineering student, this was the best place to study.”
4. The Quad. “I can’t help but think about the tradition of the university when I walked the Quad. Thoughts of ‘these are the same buildings and classrooms where my dad went to school’ pop into my head.
“Growing up just 10 miles east of the University of Illinois in St. Joseph, the U of I was the only university I loved. It was all I knew.”
5. Oregon Building Computer Lab. “The destination for late night research and papers. Several study dates occurred in that building with my wife.”