In only its second year of existence, Cherry and White Night kicked off the start to the men’s and women’s basketball seasons Friday night at McGonigle Hall. Immediately after the two teams’ scrimmages, the coaches and players led a ‘Walk for the Cure’ to benefit Coaches vs. Cancer. The event coincided with the release of additional Temple-Penn State football tickets, an added incentive to bring students out to support the teams and breast cancer awareness.
“We started planning this year’s event when the football and basketball schedules were released in order to see when most students would be on campus and when the best time to co-promote events would be,” said Scott Walcoff, assistant athletic director of marketing and promotions. “Part of the reason this year was so successful was because we tied in the distribution of free Penn State football tickets.”
Many students at Cherry and White Night echoed Walcoff’s reasons for coming out.
“I came to watch the scrimmages, but mostly to get a free Penn State ticket,” freshman Jennifer Kolowitz said.
Getting the crowd involved in the action on the court and the walk was one of the marketing department’s main goals, Walcoff said.
“We really wanted a festive atmosphere, so we included the marching band, Diamond Gems and cheerleaders because they’re Temple’s main spirit groups,” he said. “They’re students with a lot of passion and pride who really get the fans fired up.”
Marching band member Lauren McCulligan said this year’s Cherry and White Night was “crowded and exciting, definitely electrifying.”
Many of the basketball players mentioned the crowd’s enthusiasm when they stepped back onto the court for their scrimmages.
“It feels good to get back onto the court,” said Lady Comfort, a senior center for the women’s team. “It’s been a long time since we played in front of people outside of practice. Today’s going to be fun and an opportunity for everyone to see us score some buckets and play some defense.”
Senior point guard Ashley Morris encouraged the crowd to come out and support the women’s team during the regular season.
“It’s just a big adrenaline rush getting back out on the court,” she said. “It’s good for our team to get excited so we can play some good ball and show people that we’re a good basketball team, since they don’t always come out and support the women a lot. We’re here with the men, so hopefully we can give ourselves a name on campus.”
The men’s basketball team was just as excited to get back onto the court, said senior co-captains Mark Tyndale and Chris Clark.
“It’s great for the fans to come out and see us at no charge,” Tyndale said before the event. “I’m going to try to do whatever I can at the scrimmage to make them happy.”
Added Clark, “It’s great that the fans come out and support us. We’re just going to try to give them a little show and a chance to get a feel for who we are as a team.”
Immediately following the scrimmages, the marching band led the two teams and the fans from McGonigle Hall to the Bell Tower and then to the Liacouras Center, where students could pick up their free Penn State tickets.
Many students elected to participate in the Walk for the Cure before joining the line at the Center, which impressed men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy.
“I think this is a great crowd and I’m really appreciative of all the family, friends and, most importantly, students that are here,” he said. “Young people don’t always appreciate what everybody does to give back, but I think that’s what being a college student is about. You’re starting to understand that you’re pretty lucky and that maybe you ought to give some of that luck back to somebody who’s not quite as fortunate as you are.”
Women’s coach Dawn Staley echoed Dunphy’s thoughts.
“Anytime that you can do something in support of cancer research, even if it’s not monetarily, but by giving your time and helping to get the word out, I think it’s going to help somebody down the line, maybe your family or somebody else’s,” she said.
Clark summed up the night’s events in one sentence.
“Cherry and White Night and the Walk for the Cure are things that not only us,” he said, “but every fan can be involved in.”
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.