UCR’s basketball season tipped off with last Friday’s rousingly successful Midnight Madness event. Coordinated by ASPB and UCR Athletics, Midnight Madness was a massive pep rally designed to hype up Highlanders in anticipation of the upcoming basketball season. The stands of the SRC’s gym were packed as Scotty, the men and women’s basketball teams, staff and Hylander Hype pumped up the crowd.
ASPB Special Events Director Clara Murphy said, “Midnight Madness was a really long planning process but it was definitely worth it. We were really excited to collaborate with athletics to plan this event—they were really helpful and we all worked together well.” All of that planning paid off as the night began with performances by UCR Cheer and Highlander Girls. Decked in black shorts and spirit shirts provided by the campus bookstore, the teams garnered plenty of applause during their opening dance, but the crowd’s attention was soon stolen by the appearance of the women’s basketball team. They wore black tights and shirts, garish neon tutus and knee-high socks and took center stage as they danced along to a series of clips from popular hip-hop tracks.
Following the women’s basketball team, UCR Cheer took the stage and performed a series of lift stunts to a remixed version of Cobra Starship’s “You Make Me Feel.” The men’s team, who wore white t-shirts and beige shorts, soon followed with their own dance routine. The audience went wild with cheers and applause as the men tore off their shirts and ran into the crowds to bring a few ladies onto the dance floor with them. Once the participants were seated, the men danced with surprising fluidity to Beyonce’s “Dance For You.”
Soon after, the women’s basketball team and coaching staff were introduced to the crowd. After head coach John Margaritis shared a quick message calling for support from UCR students as the team entered the upcoming season, four members of the women’s team impressed the crowd with a timed layup shooting game. Freshman Chelsea Jacoby won the contest with the fastest time and was awarded for her impressive footwork with a tiara and plenty of cheers.
When the men’s basketball team and coaching staff entered the stage, Head Coach Jim Wooldridge made a point to thank Hylander Hype, the pep band, and the spirit squads for their dedication to “give [opposing teams] hell.” He also thanked both basketball teams for their impressive choreography during the night’s performances.
Despite the men’s basketball team’s postseason ban, any sense of negativity was notably absent from Coach Wooldridge’s speech. Instead, he inspired hearty applause when he told the audience about UCR’s notable successes on the court against UCSB, UCI and UC Davis, and ended his speech by saying, “Let’s beat ‘em again.”
Four members of the men’s team participated in a dunk contest, which sophomore TJ Burke won following his impressive assisted and backwards toss dunks. After receiving his celebratory crown, Burke and the team left the stage and were followed by UCR Cheer, the Highlander Girls and Hylander Hype.
Hype leaders Josh Zozaya and Alex Owens led the crowd through a series of cheers, all of which were conveniently displayed on the arena’s videoboard. The night closed with a rousing rendition of UCR’s fight song.
Clara Murphy said, “Tonight’s turnout was amazing. We would like to thank everyone for coming out and showing school spirit and I look forward to the upcoming basketball season.” The season opens for both the men’s and women’s teams on Nov. 3 with an exhibition game at the SRC. Fight on, brave Scots!