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'Noon Ball' players celebrate the end of their decades-long tradition

'Noon Ball' players celebrate the end of their decades-long tradition
Posted at 5:52 PM, May 17, 2024

GREAT FALLS — Mondays and Fridays at noon at the Community Recreation Center in downtown Great Falls have been filled with people from all walks of life for decades. They come together to participate in “Noon Ball."

“Noon Ball is a loose gathering of guys--and women, often enough--that come to the rec center or other venues and just sign in and start games,” said Monty Kuka, who has been playing Noon Ball in Great Falls for the past 46 years.

Everyone from engineers to city commissioners to psychologists partake in the twice a week pickup basketball games at twelve o’clock.

As the new recreation center prepares to open in a few weeks (details), the current rec center plans to close the gym for the final time. Before they did, all the Noon Ballers got together for one final hurrah, and three final games.



Five on five pickup basketball. Every basket is worth one point. You call your own fouls. It is standard pickup rules, but that is not what makes Noon Ball special. It is the myriad of stories that come from the games, whether it is a player having a heart attack on the court or someone getting arrested during a game.

“He hit me right on the nose and splattered my nose all over my face, and I was bleeding from here to the locker room,” County Commissioner Jim Larson recalls with a smile on his face, shoulder to shoulder with the man who broke his nose.

Friday afternoon was filled with memories as old friends caught up and reminisced on old times.

“I have these memories, you know, I have dreams about this place,” said Gary Quinn, a Noon Ball player for 15 years until he moved to the Bigfork area, “And it’s going to be amazing to think that it isn’t happening even when I’m gone.”

The event signified the sunsetting of a community united through sports, kept together by the desire for a post-lunch workout and some friendly competition.

'Noon Ball' players celebrate the end of their decades-long tradition
'Noon Ball' players celebrate the end of their decades-long tradition