By ANA BRACCIALLI
Autumn is here and we are well into the month of October, which means basketball season is getting closer than ever. To commemorate the kickoff of the season, Midnight Madness will be taking place on Oct. 14 at 11 p.m. in Bob Martinez Sports Center. This event allows the student body to meet the women’s and men’s teams as their season commences. Displayed in a pep rally style, the students can come to show their support by bringing posters, cheering and playing with the athletes
“Our goal is basically to create a fun environment for students and introduce them to the basketball team,” said Shaniah Martin, a senior majoring in accounting who is also the president of the athletic marketing. “Not necessarily show them exactly how they play, but it’s more so, who the basketball team is and how fun they are to be around.”
UT students can expect to have a lot of fun at the event. With free food and drinks, performances by all the dance teams and cheerleading, and basketball games with students and players together, Midnight Madness promises to be the event that nobody wants to miss.
“It’s a great event when the emphasis is placed on the teams and the student body. It’s always well attended by the student body,” says Tom Jessee, the head coach for the women’s basketball team.
Marcelo Ruediger, a junior center on the men’s basketball team, said that he expects Midnight Madness to be even better than last year.
“Last year was my first year experiencing the Midnight Madness here at UT and we had a lot of support from students,” Ruediger said. “A lot of people came out to watch it. I thought it was very entertaining for the players and the audience.Hopefully, this year people will show up again so we can put up a good show and have some fun with the crowd.”
However, athletes and coaches question why students only seem to show school spirit at Midnight Madness, but not during the actual season.
“At this event there is plenty of school spirit, however getting the student body back to our games with any type of regularity has been difficult. Not sure why the drop off comes game time,” Jessee said.
Ruediger says that he believes there is almost no school spirit, at least by the majority of the students. He criticizes the fact that, with the exception of Midnight Madness, people usually do not support any of thesports events on campus.
“I think that is something that needs to be worked on but it takes time and it is a process,” Ruediger said. “If we start now, maybe in a few years, it will be much better.”
Martin said that our school spirit is negatively affected because our school is Division II and we don’t have the standard football team like most DI schools do.
“We have to take in the fact that we are in a city, usually DI and sometimes even DII schools, they have more spirit, but that is because they are not necessarily located near bars, clubs, and restaurants,” Martin said.
She notes that the majority of the games happen Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, which also needs to be taken into consideration. Usually students are going out off campus from Thursday through Saturday.
“It is not necessarily that people are not interested in the sports here,” Martin said. “Wednesday usually does have a great number of people. Games at home we usually have students, parents and even alumni that come to support the athletes.”
Alumni Association, a new club on campus, is one of many clubs and organizations that will be participating in Midnight Madness by inviting all the alumni students to the event.
“On behalf of the Athletic Marketing, this is one of our favorites events in the year,” said Deepali Puri, a senior majoring in exercise physiology and also a member of public relations. “There is so much for us to do, and we have to interact with the crowd, working very closely with our athletes. It just brings campus organizations altogether, it gives us a chance to outreach.”
Fraternities will also be part of the show. The Sigma Kappa Sorority will be strolling to entertain the audience during the event.
“Every Midnight event that you see at DI schools, they are strolling, so we really wanted to bring that kind of atmosphere this year,” Martin said.
Ana Braccialli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org