Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

One man’s quest to witness 363 games

Courtesy of Ben Alkaly

Ben Alkaly, known online as “Hoops Quest,” has set out on a self-anointed mission to attend a basketball game at every Division I school in America. From encountering snow storms in Reno, Nev., to flying to Hawaii and eating the best concession snacks he has ever had, Alkaly has witnessed 82 out of 363 schools play. He has attended both men’s and women’s games, and his goal for the year is to make it to triple-digit numbers by the end of the 2024-25 season.

Alkaly saw four DI schools compete over his weekend in Texas in what he called the “Super San Antonio Sports Weekend.” During his short 30-hour stint, Alkaly attended the UTSA men’s basketball game against Florida Atlantic at the Convocation Center. He also attended the University of Incarnate Word’s men’s basketball game against McNeese State at the Alice P. McDermott Convocation Center. Additionally, he was able to catch “the beautiful game” to witness a professional men’s soccer friendly between the USA and Slovenia hosted at San Antonio’s Toyota Field.

With a goal that began in 2008, Alkaly had already visited his fair share of DI schools when he worked for his alma mater, the University of California Santa Barbara, as the women’s basketball team’s assistant media relations director.

Alkaly worked with the UCSB Gauchos from 2001-2006 where he traveled with the team to all of their games and began his Hoops Quest.

“I think I’ve always been a sports fan,” Alkaly said. “I used to be a huge NFL fan. I actually used to love baseball as a kid. But going to UCSB, and you know, we weren’t a football school; basketball was the thing.”

Between a full-time job at UCLA, being a husband and maintaining his status as a devout hoops fan, Alkaly has given himself one rule as he travels the country to attend games; be present in person at the game for at least half of the match. 

“First, I look to see if UCSB has any games at schools I’ve never been to. But then I look at clusters of games. But San Antonio wasn’t really on my radar until now,” Alkaly said.

“A friend texted me; he’s like, ‘Hey, USA versus Slovenia friendly,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, cool! Let me check to see if there are any hoops that weekend.’ I looked and saw UIW plays right after the soccer game; it was perfect. Then I saw UTSA plays the next day — perfect! That’s when I locked it in.”

Alkaly’s passion for sports started at a young age, and with this passion-fueled drive, he has completed his quest in California as of 2023 after witnessing all 26 DI schools play. However, he has no problem leaving his home state to catch a game, as his other passion is traveling.

Alkaly has braved 11-hour bus rides, used a phone book as a pillow and crossed state lines in a day to visit university games in two different states, all in the name of love when it comes to basketball, to the point that he has become an expert in using his miles and points to travel, which is a feat in itself.

“I love traveling. I like college sports and traveling around the country. It’s a great window into regional cultures, regional food [and] what people are passionate about. I like seeing the different fan bases and traditions,” Alkaly said.

“I think what I take away is that I experienced a part of the country or a city I would never go to otherwise. So that’s what I really take away from it.”

It is a shame that UTSA lost to Florida Atlantic on Sunday, but nothing would bring down Alkaly’s spirits.

“Tough one today, but it sure was exciting,” Alkaly said as he added schools 81 and 82 to his quest countdown.

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About the Contributor
Haley Aguayo, Assistant Sports Editor
Haley (she/her) is a senior at UTSA who is majoring in digital communications and minoring in marketing and will be graduating in December 2024. She joined The Paisano in the spring of 2023 and primarily writes for the sports section. Haley has since become the assistant sports editor at The Paisano. After she graduates, she hopes to work in sports journalism or do in-house marketing for a professional sports team.

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