Women’s Basketball team hyping up one of their teammates during intros. Olivia Piazza Photography
By Jordan McKoy
For the majority of current Merrimack students, this was their first time celebrating with the Men’s and Women’s basketball teams during Midnight Madness. Thursday night, Merrimack brought back a beloved tradition in the community that shook campus.
For the first time in three years, Midnight Madness found its way to Bert Hammel Court. Although it’s now called “The Warrior Tip Off,” this was the first time the pep rally type of event happened with Merrimack holding Division 1 status.
The tradition ran smoothly from 2014 through the 2018 – 2019 season. As they transitioned into being a D1 program, Merrimack was not able to keep up with the tradition at the start of the 2019-2020 season.
The year after, the world was put on pause due to Covid-19, making it impossible to have one that year. This would continue to affect the 2021-2022 season as the world still was not completely back to normal. However, this year, things changed as the event was revived.
“It was very refreshing considering that we were freshman when Covid happened, and everything you look forward to as a college student got shut down and taken away from us forcefully. It was nice to have a student lead event where so many people came out and showed support. The energy of excited students is remarkable,” said senior, Omara Acosta.
The energy of excited students was evident Thursday night as the Men and Women’s basketball teams were introduced to the community for the first time of the 2022 – 2023 season. Players were embraced with screams, claps, and chants as the crowd welcomed new facies and returning stars.
“My favorite part of the night was the individual intros. The energy was amazing, and it was such a fun experience. It was such a fun way to see a little piece of everyone’s personality and get the energy pumping in the gym, it really set the tone for the whole night,” said Kaylee Thomas of the Women’s Basketball Team.
This seemed to be a unanimous favorite as Jordan Minor of the men’s team and fans in attendance added comments about how much they enjoyed the intros and chance for everyone to express themselves.
Briefly after everyone was introduced, the competitions for the night began. The crowd went crazy as they watched players drain shots from behind the arc in the 3pt contest and compete against each other in the skills competition.
Ouuu’s and ahh’s took the decibels up another 100 notches in the gym as players skied for acrobatic dunks in the dunk contest finale.
“I enjoyed the authenticity and genuineness with everything you guys did. As athletes, you seemed excited to share what you guys love with us. As audience members, we got excited with you, not just for you. So, the energy was just very vibrant in the gym,” said Acosta.
While the players may have been the main event, they weren’t the only ones showcasing their talents and passion Thursday night. They were joined by 2 student MCs, the cheer team, dance team, and marching band. With multiple selections and performances from the groups, the energy was through the roof the entire night.
“It felt amazing to be a part of such a special night for both basketball programs. The support from the other student athletes, regular students, and administration was really felt. It was a great feeling to see everyone in the community supporting one another, and I hope this is something that continues past our grade and grows in every aspect,” said Thomas.
After three long years, the community was finally able to come together and bring back a tradition of joy celebration with the basketball programs.
“It was good to have the community there for the start of the season. It was a nice event to get everyone together for one night, and hopefully we get everyone together every night when we play to experience everything that’s going on,” said Jordan Minor, a senior forward. “We want this to be a special year not just for us, but for everyone in the community,” continued Minor.
If “The Warrior Tip Off” was any indication of what’s to come for the Men’s and Women’s basketball seasons, this year will continue to be a special one for both programs and community.