Chick-fil-A. High-flying dunks. Free T-shirts. Sister Jean. These are all things you can find at Rambler Madness, which is scheduled to take place on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. in Gentile Arena. Rambler Madness is Loyola’s annual event that kicks off the basketball season and celebrates the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
The Loyola Athletics department hosts Rambler Madness, previously known as Midnight Madness, to get students excited about the upcoming basketball season and encourage them to attend the games. Midnight Madness originally marked and celebrated the point in the season when NCAA rules allowed college basketball teams to hold full-team practices. The event includes a prayer from Sister Jean, remarks from the head coaches of the men’s and women’s teams, a dance involving student-athletes from every sport, a three-pointer contest and a dunk contest.
Rambler Madness gives the women’s basketball program its first chance to work on rebuilding its reputation in the Loyola community after a scandal last season involving former head coach Sheryl Swoopes.
Men’s basketball head coach Porter Moser said college basketball is not complete without fans filling the stands. The fans elevate the team, according to Moser, and he said fans make a difference in the outcome of a game. Moser said he hopes Rambler Madness will help students understand their vital role with Loyola sports.
“It’s a night where we can get in front of them and say, ‘You are a part of the team,’” Moser said. “The student body has a direct relation to our success.”
Last season, when school was in session and attendance at games was up, the men’s basketball team went 8-3 at Gentile Arena. During winter break, when students were off campus and attendance in Gentile was down, the team went 2-6.
Kate Achter, who is the new women’s basketball head coach, said she’s excited for her first Rambler Madness and hopes the event sets a positive tone for players and fans for the upcoming season.
Achter said the women’s basketball team has been working hard to prepare for its upcoming season and this event will showcase the players’ dedication and excitement.
“Any time you can get support for all of the hard work you’re putting in that no one else sees, I think that’s a good thing,” said Achter.
Sophomore guard Brandi Segars said Rambler Madness gives the women’s team a burst of energy going into the season and showcases the different personalities of the players, which fans don’t have the opportunity to see during games.
“Most of the time when you see us playing, we’re serious and it’s game time,” said Segars, who is from Queens, New York. “This is more like a nice, fun event.”
Rambler Madness shows fans that the teams know how to have fun, according to junior forward Donte Ingram. He said success is easier if the teams enjoy themselves.
“Since we have been putting hard work in practice, it gives us time to enjoy ourselves,” said Ingram, a Chicago native. “That reminds you that you have to have fun in the process. It’s business, but at the same time, you have to enjoy yourself. That brings success when you’re not taking yourself too seriously and just having fun with it.”
Achter said she isn’t nervous for her debut in front of the student body. She said she is excited to get students ready for the season, but she plans to just be herself.
“I am what I am at this point. It’s not going to be anything crazy,” said Achter. “I’m not going to go out there and do any kind of dance; that’s not really my personality. Maybe we’ll throw out some T-shirts and give students a reason to come to our games and support our players.”
Moser said he believes that Achter is going to bring a very enthusiastic and positive tone to Rambler Madness.
“She brings a great enthusiasm,” said Moser. “She’s got a great spirit about her, a great competitive spirit … I think the student body will really relate to her, she’s bringing an energy level. I think the fans will really embrace watching her coach and watching her team play.”
The women’s and men’s basketball teams are scheduled to begin their seasons in a double-header format on Nov. 11. The women’s team will face off Northern Illinois University at 5 p.m., and the men’s team will follow at 7:30 p.m. against Alcorn State University at Gentile Arena.