BY ASA HERRON | PHOTOS BY GRANT JONES
Andrew Helenbrook is a third year chemical engineering student from Buffalo, NY. Chemical engineering may just be the most rigorous major The Ohio State University has to offer, but he chose it because he actually enjoyed chemistry in high school and has seen his parents enjoy successful careers as engineers. However, it has been difficult for Helenbrook to leave behind the oh-so valuable partying lessons he learned from Bills Mafia as a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan. This is college, after all.
He decided to try out frat parties on weekends as an underclassman, but he felt like he wasn’t fully utilizing his limited amount of time to throw down. Additionally, he had been looking for a club to become involved in without any luck. When it came down to it, he wanted a club where he could have that Saturday night banger and play his favorite sport, basketball, with some friends. It was time to blaze his own trail.
“I’ve seen how basketball can connect people in my own life,” Helenbrook shared. “I’ve made most of my friends through basketball, and I taught my little sister to play.”
Being an integral part of Helenbrook’s life since kindergarten, basketball wasn’t about to be overlooked because of a couple pressing three-hour labs. Like most of us who played childhood sports, he was missing the close relationships he had before college because of the bonds built on the court.
It only seemed logical to start what he needed all along: a social basketball club. To pay homage to the legendary 1982-84 University of Houston basketball team, (which had Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, among other future pros) and simultaneously adopt a faux-fraternity brand, he named his club Phi Slamma Jamma.
“My family, my friends, and Phi Slamma Jamma’s officers help me balance everything I have going on,” Helenbrook humbly admitted.
Phi Slamma Jamma is now an officially registered club on campus which accepts both men and women hoopers. Instead of holding chapter meetings, every Wednesday they play basketball, and instead of charging dues, joining is free. At least once per month, a social is hosted at a member’s house, and Block is put on for major home games during the football and basketball seasons.
Additionally, the club will be hosting a 3-on-3 tournament this spring at the RPAC with all proceeds benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus. Basketball has a unique ability to connect people, and Phi Slamma Jamma is capitalizing off of this to help people make friends on campus and help the Columbus community. So far, it seems to be a cause that resonates with many folks on campus because Phi Slamma Jamma now bolsters upwards of fifty members.
This may seem like a lot to handle for a guy who has to spend upwards of 55 hours per week studying, but that’s not a problem for Helenbrook. “I’m at my best when I’m challenged,” he told me. That’s why he chose chemical engineering as his major in the first place. He wanted the pressure. For students also looking to add on some pressure past the three-point line, you can join this new non-fraternity, too. At the end of the day, students like Helenbrook remind us that on campus, you can have both a career-driven major and a heart-driven hobby.
To learn more about Phi Slamma Jamma and get notifications about the spring 3-on-3 tournament date, follow them on Instagram @ohio_state_psj.