Temple fans began hooting for their basketball team at the onset of the season, and now they’re being tested to put their money where their mouths are.
Cherry and white fever escalated to a new high when a bus full of 30 rowdy Temple students each dished out $200 on a bus ticket to Miami to cheer on their Owls as they make their way through March Madness.
“This is the craziest thing I’ve ever done,” said Luke Butler, a junior psychology neuroscience double major, the president of the Cherry Crusade, which sponsored the event.
After the Owls advanced to the NCAA tournament, Butler said he woke up Monday morning and declared to himself, “You know what? We’re going to put a trip together and were going to go to Miami.”
He organized the entire trip, from booking the hotels to scheduling the buses. He even bought body paint for Owls fans.
“I have not had a moment to breathe, let alone think about what I was getting myself into. But now it is all done,” he wrote on templetomiami.blogspot.com, a blog he created to keep Owl fans updated on the journey.
The raw excitement and spontaneous thrill of an unpredictable game score electrified students to go all out.
“I’m painting my body for the game. I’m really excited,” said Ilysaa Gross, a junior special education major. She also said she won’t miss the money that she spent too much for a win.
The $200 included transportation to and from Florida, a hotel room for a night and tickets to the game. To help with costs, two alumni aided the Cherry Crusade in setting up a PayPal account because they wanted to see a Temple presence in Miami. They raised about $9,500 among approximately 50 contributions that ranged from $10 to $500.
“They helped and did make this a reality,” Butler said.
Freshman broadcast, telecommunications and mass media major Lindsey Miller said she explained the importance of attending the game to her professors.
“With an opportunity like this, I was going to go to this game,” she said.
The bus left Temple at 12:15 p.m. Thursday and began a 22-hour trip toward Miami. Although 20 bus seats remain unoccupied, students said that they knew dozens of other students and teachers who were willing to fork over the funds, but couldn’t because of academic obligations.
“My one teacher actually wanted to come,” freshman chemistry major Nicole Melfi said. “But he had an exam to give in another class.”
If Temple loses, the Cherry crusaders will stay until Saturday night and enjoy Miami Beach during the day. If the Owls advance, the bus will stay through the game on Sunday, and leave immediately afterwards.
Junior accounting major Bill Bruk said the $200 fee was worth every penny because he has always been into college basketball.
As far as missing school, he only told one professor he won’t be making it to a class only because he had to reschedule a quiz.
“Other than that, I don’t even care,” he said. “Because I’m going to Miami.”
Matthew Petrillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.