As FAMU’s men’s basketball team geared up to play the University of Kentucky at Ohio State, their unlikely journey through the NCAA Tournament brought a level of excitement to the students, staff and alumni that few events have.
Friday’s pep rally gave students a chance to support the basketball team and to showcase their school spirit. The crowd’s energy was high as King of Orange and Green DeAndre Etherly raced and screamed throughout the gym, building anticipation for the match-up that was held in Columbus, Ohio.
Rattlers who remained in Tallahassee packed in Gaither Gymnasium where the sounds of hip-hop and R&B music played by FAMU student DJ Skillz, Jason Cole, blasted from speakers. blasted from speakers and boosted enthusiasm.
Excitement filled the faces of many students as they viewed the NCAA game that was showed on big screen televisions.
Latoya Sheals, a freshman criminal justice student from Lakeland, said the pep rally allowed many students that didn’t have the opportunity to watch the game, to do so.
“I am glad that we were able to compete against other prestigious schools in the NCAA tournament, and I hope FAMU basketball team represents,” Sheals said.
Members of WCTV 6 news did live broadcasts of the pep rally and the game.
The coverage and publicity brought smiles to those who worked hard to make the event happen. Campus leaders such as Mr. FAMU Teddy Goyins, Student Government President-elect Virgil Miller, and Associate Vice President Dean of Student Affairs Henry Kirby stood before the anxious crowd speaking of the impact that the game has had on Rattlers nationwide.
“The event capitalized on the publicity of the team and the game will increase recruitment in basketball to our school,” Goyins said.
Goyins, a 21-year-old Voorhees, NJ native was proud of the basketball team and the turnout of the event. The senior business student also said he feels good about the progress and accomplishments of FAMU.
Prior to the 2003-2004 season, the FAMU Men’s team had not reached the NCAA Tournament since 1999. While they lost to Duke in 1999, the Rattlers were able to capture their first tournament victory this year with their win of the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in the first round play-in game.
“The FAMU Rattlers are making history with this game”, said Miller, a public health graduate student from West Palm Beach.
Most fans left the gym commending their team for a strong effort and positive representation of FAMU.
Maurice Slade, a freshman business student, said the game was good because it gave FAMU national exposure and recognition.
“The game showed that an HBCU can compete with I-A schools,” said Slade a 18-year-old from Houston.
Mr. FAMU-elect, Ryan Morand, said he plans to promote the basketball team as much as the football team is promoted and plans to bring in more alumni to their games.
“I will try to improve the publicity of the basketball team next year,” said the junior business student.
Morand, a 20-year-old from Tampa, said having the pep rally was a good way to start anew for the future of the basketball team.
Although students and alumni cheered for victory, the game ended in a devastating loss of 20 points, 96-76, to Kentucky.
Regardless of the outcome, students said they look forward to seeing the team in the tournament next year.
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