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Adam Sandler makes surprise appearance at Canisius

By Colton Pankiewicz, Asst. Sports Editor

Movie star Adam Sandler spontaneously played pickup basketball with students at Canisius prior to his comedy show in Buffalo last weekend.

The longtime actor who’s starred in Blockbuster films such as “Big Daddy,” “Happy Gilmore” and “Grown Ups” left those who saw him at Canisius in awe as he quietly played a game of pickup basketball in the Koessler Athletic Center before his show at the KeyBank Center on Sunday.

Outside of the visit of former President Harry S. Truman when he came to the college in 1962 during his 38-hour stay in Buffalo, Canisius hasn’t hosted many people of high stature. So when Siem Uijtendaal, a junior on the men's basketball team, heard that Adam Sandler was coming to get a workout in, he didn't believe it.

“I was in the gym shooting — I didn't expect anything before I heard Adam Sandler was coming in. … I didn't believe it,” said Uijtendaal. “Myself, Athina Lexa and him were on a team in a three-on-three basketball game. He kept complimenting my game, and he was actually pretty good himself, doing all the fancy behind-the-back passes and all that. He gave all of us in the gym tickets to his comedy show after our game, and we went and had a great time.”

Associate Athletic Trainer Kristen Saviola was in the athletic training room when she heard the same rumor. She checked to see if the news was real, and, sure enough, the award-winning actor was there.

“You’d think he was just a normal dude: he didn’t act like some billionaire, just a dude playing basketball and getting a workout in,” said Saviola. After the scrimmage was over, she jokingly asked Sandler if he needed to be stretched out. To her surprise the man that played roles such as “Bobby Boucher,” “Happy Gilmore” or “Sonny Koufax” took her up on it.

“I didn’t want to fangirl,” said Saviola. “I was as normal as possible and tried to be professional while inside I was thinking ‘What the heck is happening? Who’s going to believe I went to work and saw Adam Sandler playing pickup at a small school in Buffalo?’ This isn't some huge school that you’d expect him to be at,” said the associate athletic trainer, in her fifth year with the college. Saviola couldn’t believe that she was stretching out the man she had watched in movies for her entire life, nor could she believe how normal he was.

She will mostly remember cracking a joke in which she was able to make Sandler laugh, just before asking him for a picture, to which he instantly agreed.

Freshman Rylee McKInney was lying on the recovery table awaiting offseason treatment from her volleyball season when the man that starred in “Murder Mystery 2,” a movie she had watched just last week, walked in.

“He walked in with shorts that went below the knees and had a shirt on that didn’t match, with colorful basketball shoes to top it off,” she said.

The man introduced himself as Adam and asked how she was doing. A short time later, word spread: before most students could swarm the building, he told everyone he had a show to go to and left like he was never there. He performed his act in front of thousands just a short time later before continuing on his comedy tour. Sandler’s visit to the school created a story for just a handful of students to tell, but one that is surely unique for the small school of Canisius College.

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