With over 1000 students and faculty packed into one side of the Wolves’ Den, the lights turned down low, music playing and “Chuck Fico” shirts thrown into the crowd; Midnight Madness was the epitome of school spirit at Sonoma State University.
Midnight Madness was held on Tuesday from 10:30 p.m. until midnight to celebrate the start of basketball season, which officially began on Wednesday.
“Midnight Madness is a way for the student body to get invested in student athletes and student athletes to invest their energy toward fans,” said Garret Gooch, one of the MC’s of Midnight Madness.
The two MC’s for the night, Gooch and Harper Sassaman, helped set the tone by coming out with a lot of energy and excitement. The players of the men’s and women’s basketball teams also helped the energy of the event.
“Midnight Madness allows athletes to be quirky and ridiculous as they are introduced to the audience,” Gooch said. “It gives the student body the opportunity to see us athletes in a different situation other than in class.”
As they got announced, the basketball players got together in groups of two’s and three’s and had pre-planned handshakes, dance steps and routines before they sat on their respective sides of the court. A few of the pairs even took selfies with part of the crowd in the background.
“My favorite part of the night was being introduced to the fans,” said Tanner Adams, a junior on the women’s basketball team. “It is an amazing feeling to hear your friends and students at your school cheering for you and being supportive of what you do.”
At the beginning of the night, there were performances by the cheer squad and the Sapphires, Sonoma State’s dance team. Throughout the rest of the night, there were also games, team introductions, give-aways, and a dunk squad who came to perform. For a majority of the contests, students were chosen according to the number on the raffle ticket they were given as they first entered the gym.
The first few contests were shooting games for money. The first students to participate got to shoot four free-throws a piece, and were awarded $25 per made shot. The guy unfortunately missed all four shots, but the girl who participated made two out of the four, earning herself $50.
In between events, other sports teams were announced. They would run out and throw shirts and stress balls, which were decorated as their respective sport’s ball, into the crowd. Students were jumping up, cheering and playfully fighting for all the stuff being thrown.
At one point, Gooch led about 50 students in a dance competition. He would show them a style of dance and they would copy it. Students who were not as strong of dancers were tapped on the shoulder and asked to sit back down. They did all different types of dances including the Nae Nae, the Dougie, krumping, the jerk and many others. In the end, the dancers were too talented and the judges couldn’t choose one winner.
The main attraction of the night, besides announcing the basketball teams and the start of their season, was the TNT dunk squad. They were a group of three men who used trampolines to jump, do flips and dunk over obstacles. They preformed a 30-minute show where they jumped over volunteers from the crowd. They also used props such as hats and the mascot to add excitement to their dunks. One of their tricks included jumping over about 10 to 15 girls from the cheer team, while another constituted flipping over the mascot while simultaneously taking a ball out of his hands and dunking it.
“All the games, the dunk squad, the dance and cheer teams, and all the other sports teams created a high energy in the gym, which made the event really enjoyable,” said Adams.
The night ended with a half court shot, which, if made, was worth a semester’s tuition. When the shot went up, everyone in the stands stood up as the ball hit the rim, the backboard and the rim again before hitting the ground. As the ball dropped, there was a simultaneous sigh from all the students in the stands.
“That dude’s shot was so close,” said Gooch. “I wish it would have went in, he totally deserved it.”
Coaches and students alike were very pleased with the turnout, high energy and participation during this year’s Midnight Madness.
“The energy was high.” Gooch said. “I spoke to Associate Head Coach (of the men’s basketball team), Rich Shayewitz post-event and he said it was one of the best Midnight Madness’ he has ever seen.”
For the basketball teams, Midnight Madness is more than just an event on a Tuesday night. It helps them get excited and energized for the season’s inception. It also reminds them of the support they have from the student body.
“It was really refreshing to see all of those students in the stands who were there just for us,” Adams said.
The basketball teams are now in full-on practice mode preparing for their games to start.
The men’s first home game is on Nov. 14 at 3 p.m. against Chico. The women’s first home game is on Nov. 15 at 3 p.m. against Menlo.