The athletic careers of most NCAA Division III student-athletes typically end when the final buzzer goes off during the last game of the year, but for three former members of the Gettysburg College men's basketball team, the chance at continuing to play at a high level led to a journey across the Atlantic Ocean and a unique opportunity to play against one another.
Over the last five months, Alex Zurn '13, Connor Poston '14, and Sean Gordon '15 have been busy showcasing the basketball skills they each developed inside Gettysburg's Bream Gym in a new environment as members of professional teams in Ireland's Premier League.
Zurn is currently under contract with UCD Marian, while both Poston and Gordon play for Eanna BC. The former Bullets squared off twice during the regular season in the Premier League, first on Dec. 19 and again on Feb. 6. Zurn's team won both meetings, but overall it was a surreal experience for the three Gettysburg graduates.
"It was a lot of fun to play against Connor and Sean," said Zurn, who is leading the Premier League in steals at 3.7 per game.
"It was pretty strange playing against my former teammate Zurn, especially in the beginning," recalled Gordon. "I couldn't stop laughing during warm-ups knowing that I was going up against my former captain."
It was through Zurn that both Poston and Gordon learned of this unique opportunity. A 1,000-point scorer for the Bullets, Zurn received a scholarship at Dublin Business School to earn his master's degree and play basketball. At the same time, Zurn signed a professional contract to play for the GCD Swords Thunder in the Premier League. After earning his degree, the native of Brookeville, Md., continued his international hoops career with the Reading Rockets in England.
When their former college teammate returned home from his travels, he regaled Poston and Gordon with stories about playing at the international level and enjoying the Irish culture.
"When Alex returned from his first year abroad, he gave me a detailed explanation of his experience and I knew immediately that it was something I wanted to pursue," recalled Poston, who hails from Ambler, Pa.
Both Poston and Gordon turned in strong senior campaigns on the basketball court for Gettysburg. Poston averaged more than nine points and six rebounds per game in 2013-14, while Gordon recorded 11 points and more than four assists per game in 2014-15. The chance to continue playing basketball and earn a master's education was just too good to pass up.
"The reason I chose to play overseas was because it has always been a dream of mine to travel the world while doing something I love," said Gordon, a native of Broomall, Pa. "A good portion of my college career was limited due to injuries and this was a great opportunity to show that I still have some juice left in the tank."
Zurn put his former teammates in touch with his former head coach at Dublin Business School and both were awarded scholarships to continue their education and play basketball for the university. The Americans also signed on to play with Eanna BC in the Premier League. Just a few months later, Zurn returned to Ireland after signing on with UCD Marian, reuniting the former teammates for a pair of "alumni" games on the Emerald Isle.
Life has been busy for Gordon and Poston. In addition to playing for two basketball teams, the pair keeps a rigorous course schedule for their master's program. They also coach youth basketball and have taken expanded roles with the college team as captains. Through it all, they have relied on their backgrounds as student-athletes at Gettysburg.
"Gettysburg definitely helped prepare me for this unique opportunity both on and off the court," noted Poston. "As student-athletes, we had to develop time management skills to balance school and basketball, which has translated nicely here in Ireland."
Both Gordon and Poston will be finishing up their master's programs in May with a final dissertation due in September. After three years playing on the international scene, Zurn indicated he's ready to hang up his sneakers and begin a new career back home.
After some additional travelling around Europe this spring and summer, the three friends plan to return stateside with MBAs in tow and ready to tackle their next adventures.
"I've been fortunate to have this opportunity and the support of my family and friends," said Zurn. "I don't think I could have picked a better thing to do directly out of college and I've made some life-long friends in the process."
The trio also hopes they aren't the last Bullets to play overseas. Zurn started the tradition three years ago, Poston and Gordon carried the torch, and now they hope to pass the baton to some new aspiring international hoopsters at Gettysburg.
"I would just say keep an open mind and a positive attitude when pursuing a path similar to the one we took," said Poston. "Overall this experience has been incredibly enriching and it has been a blessing to learn and grow as a person here in Ireland over the past five months."