If you didn’t know Kevin Kapitan, you’d think he was … well, cocky. After all, since when does a coach field a sports team, but then fail to show up with his squad for the big tournament?

Yet, that is exactly what Kapitan — a commercial sales engineer for Bryant Habegger Supply of Cincinnati — did. While his chosen three — Habegger employees Kevin Sisk, Greg Brown, and Kevin Kaplinger — traveled to Indianapolis late last March to compete in this industry’s one and only HVAC three-on-three Basketball Tournament, Kapitan opted to travel to Palm Springs.

Come to think of it, maybe Kapitan made the right decision, opting to vacation in California rather than coach a team whose roster includes a 62-year-old man. And, yes, that is how old one of his players is. (Take a bow, Mr. Brown.)

You see, this is not your normal, everyday roundball tourney. Here’s the catch. The three men on each team in this event have to have a combined age of 120 or more. As one might suspect, with such a rule, participants from each team do not necessarily display Michael Jordan-type hang time or swat away shots like Ben Wallace.

Then again, Bill Bissmeyer, the salesperson at Indianapolis-based B & B Air Inc., had no illusions about the athletic prowess of those in the industry when B & B Air decided to host the tournament. That’s why he instituted the combined-age rule six years ago, when the tournament began. In 1998, 12 teams participated. This past March, 125 contractors participated from three states.

“It’s just good fun for everyone,” commented Chris Pappas, HVAC department manager for McCurdy Mechanical, Fishers, Ind.

The Winners

Even though Kapitan may have been elsewhere, his team did not let him down. Sisk (age 28), Brown (hey, I told you his age already), and Kaplinger (32) captured the “old guy” bracket — and that is the term they, not me, coined. In the finals, the threesome defeated the team of Joe Barbarossa (48), Kevin Torrence (31), and Steve Miller (54), who represented HBA-McQuay of Ft. Wayne, Ind.

At the same time, Bissmeyer did not want to exclude the whippersnappers from participating. He realized long ago that not every team could meet the 120-combined-aged rule. That’s why an open division exists. This year Snodgrass Sheet Metal of Indianapolis outlasted Ideal Heating of Indianapolis to take home the “stud” championship (again, that’s their term, not mine). Snodgrass’ Chad Lee (23), Lloyd Campbell (26), and Brian Vaugn (21) edged out Ideal’s Todd Black (27), Woody Moore (26), and Van Bragg (24).

Another added attraction this year was a family competition. The Sylvester family — father Sam and sons Gregg and Doug — from Sylvester Heating and Cooling of Carmel, Ind., defeated the Stevens family — Kyle, Zach, and Marty — from Applied Air Systems of Cincinnati.

Got Game?

When Kapitan returned to work, his players told him what had transpired. “They are still on cloud nine,” commented Kapitan.

Bissmeyer, on the other hand, is just glad his team finally won a first-round game. “We were terribly surprised,” he confessed.

“I think it keeps getting better and better each year,” said the 45-year-old Pappas, whose team, by the way, finished third in the older division. His teammates included Virgil Pace (40) and Roger Farlee (36).

If you want to participate next year, contact Bissmeyer at 800- 357-6845. You have a full year to practice that jumper and get your wind back.

If you don’t think you have a chance, Pappas asks you to think otherwise. “Hey, I’m 5’7” and 220,” he said. “You can imagine my basketball skills.”

Mark Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax), or markskaer@achrnews.com.

Publication date: 05/05/2003