Women’s basketball: thousands of school children expected at tomorrow’s game
Assuming a possible snowstorm does not shutdown area schools, the Wright State women’s basketball is set to play in front of thousands of screaming school children Wednesday afternoon in the Nutter Center.
According to WSU Athletics Department assistant marking director Brandon Hays, 2,700 children and chaperones from 30 schools will be in attendance for Wright State’s first Education and Hoops Day.
With an expected attendance of over 3,000, the crowd will mark WSU’s largest since the Raiders hosted No. 1-ranked UConn on Dec. 31, 2001.
Hays said the only cost for schools to attend would be for transportation to get to the arena. Wright State is offering free attendance as well as a drawstring backpack and a water bottle to every student.
The timing was perfect for a large crowd. The Raiders are hosting Youngstown State who sits on top of the Horizon League table. A win over the Penguins could go a long ways in leading Wright State to a league title.
Hays said it would not be just fun and games at Wednesday’s game. Students will learn about the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle.
The concept of playing a game in front school children is not an unusual one. Last season, the University of Dayton hosted over 6,700 fans for a game that played on a weekday at 11 a.m.
At that game, students worked on math related to basketball. Hays said that WSU did not want to compete with what has become an annual tradition at UD, rather offer a completely different experience to local schools.
“There has been this movement in women’s basketball the last 5-10 years to connect with local schools,” Hays said. “When I was at the University of Memphis, we did this a couple of times and had some success. It is really not a money making thing.”
The goal is not only to educate children in grades K-6, but also to give the women’s basketball players the chance to play in front of a boisterous crowd.
“What we do is we want to give our women’s basketball players, especially our seniors, a really cool crowd and really good atmosphere,” Hays said.
Head coach Mike Bradbury is looking forward to having his players perform in front of a large crowd at a unique time.
“I like noon games, I wish we could play them all at noon,” Bradbury said. “I hope the crowd is out there and I think it’ll be great. I think it will be a good atmosphere. Hopefully the weather holds off and it works out.”
Assistant Director of Athletics Rod Perry said he experienced one of the women’s basketball field trip days.
“I went to one at Miami University,” Perry said. “It really creates a home-court advantage.”
While Hays hopes the students enjoy their time at Wright State and learn about fitness, he also hopes the kids will provide the home-court advantage needed to beat a team of Youngstown State’s caliber.
“They are in first place and it is going to be a huge game,” Hays said. “We didn’t know that at the beginning of the year. But it has turned into a huge home court advantage. We are playing at a strange time, our players are ready for it and there are going to be a bunch of screaming, obnoxious kids at least to Youngstown State. It will sound beautiful to me.”