By Jilleen Barrett, Features Editor/Managing Editor
With the basketball season rapidly approaching, Jasper Nation gathered in Draddy Gymnasium for Manhattan Madness, a yearly event meant to hype up the men’s and women’s teams before they both have their first games of the season, both of which will be on Nov. 7.
Student Engagement begins planning Manhattan Madness several months in advance, according to the office’s director John Bennett. He also detailed how the Student Government Association contributes to the event both financially and socially.
“The lion’s share of the budgeting goes to ensuring that every student gets a t-shirt,” Bennett said. “So we purchased a thousand t-shirts for tonight. But there are other expenses as well from the DJ and emcee company … the overwhelming majority is really for t-shirts.”
Though Bennett was not aware of the exact number of students who attended, he said about two thousand t-shirts were taken by the end of the night.
The money for the t-shirts comes from the vice president of social life’s budget. John O’Connor, one of the social life committee members, spoke with The Quadrangle before Madness and said that leadership from across the college’s clubs would compete in a round of musical chairs before Madness officially began.
“We figured by giving clubs and teams that aren’t necessarily under athletics the opportunity to partake in different things at Madness, it kind of fosters that sense of community that we try to represent in the college,” O’Connor said.
When O’Connor, who is also a member of the dance team, received his Madness t-shirt, he was shocked to find out that a design he created was featured. AshLeigh Addarich, a member of the cheer team, also had her design on it.
O’Connor received a vote on the design for the shirt as part of the social life committee and emphasized that it was important to him to collaborate with other people from the school. This is why he asked for the opinions of Grace Dillon, a graphic design major, and Christina Katsamouri, a women’s basketball player. He said he wanted input from Katsamouri specifically because the event is to celebrate the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
“I think having someone from the dance team and the cheer team win the contest was really cool, especially since we work so closely, we have every shirt from every game … a big process [was] getting other people’s opinions on what we wanted,” O’Connor said. “I was saying to my friends, I’ll wear it in ten years at our reunion.”
The VP of social life also has the opportunity to plan more fun aspects of the rally. Bennett credits Rosalia Cefalu, who currently holds the position, with arranging a musical chairs game.
“My pep rallies in high school always had musical chairs, but it was just sports captains, which was great, but I was thinking of how I could get more of the student body involved,” Cefalu wrote in a message to The Quadrangle. “Club leaders do a ton for the community and I thought they were the perfect people to get involved and be a part of the event.”
Casey Shellberg, a member of Manhattan’s cheer team, took part in the game before she performed in the cheer team’s routines that night.
“I thought it was a great idea by Student Government and loved to see other club leaders get involved at a Madness event,” Schellberg said. “It was a fun and competitive game and I loved how into it the crowd got!”
Like O’Connor pointed out, the purpose of Manhattan Madness is to kick off the basketball season and get the whole community excited about the season and the possibility of going to the MAACs this year. After former head coach Steven Masiello was terminated abruptly before the season began, students wondered how Madness and the men’s season would proceed.
RaShawn Stores, the interim head coach of the team, stepped into his new position two days before Madness. Stores addressed the crowd with one request: to support his team.
“It’s not about me,” he said during his speech. “It’s about these young men. Tonight, Jasper Nation, we’re gonna need you, and every day of this year, we’re gonna need you.”
“I’m really happy for RaShawn and the women’s team and the men’s team,” Marianne Reilly, the director of the athletic department, told The Quadrangle right after Madness ended. “I mean, it has been a wonderful turnout tonight.”
Bennett told The Quadrangle that because of COVID, some of the student body has never experienced Madness at its fullest. Schellberg noted this as well, and as a senior, she said she hopes more freshmen get involved and attend the annual event.
“I always hear some freshmen being like, ‘I don’t really want to go’ and I’m like, ‘You should go, it’s like the biggest event of the semester!’,” Schellberg said. “I love being part of the hype team for the basketball teams, and I really just enjoy all the energy that comes from Madness.”
Editor’s Note: Kyla Guilfoil contributed to reporting.