Loyola men’s basketball fans traveled from far and near to watch the Ramblers take on the University of Nevada Wolf Pack in the Southern Region’s Sweet 16 game. Hours before tipoff, fans gathered at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta for a pep rally and team send-off.
Most people, alumni and fan alike, said they traveled from Chicago to watch the Ramblers play. Some said their travel plans were made last minute.
“I woke up in Chicago at around 3:30 this morning and I’ve been traveling ever since,” Joe Warnke, Loyola alum and former Rambler said. Warnke had plans to go to Fort Lauderdale with his family for spring break, but with his daughter’s blessing, attended today’s game instead.
Warnke, who played on the men’s basketball team during his time at Loyola between 1994 and 1995, was prompted to go to Atlanta by his former teammates, around 10 of whom were also in attendance at the game. Unlike Warnke, some of his teammates flew in from the other side of the globe.
Donyale Jermaine Bush, class of 1998, played center with the Ramblers. His journey to the 2018 Sweet 16 began in Shenzhen, China, where he works with a company that trains athletes of all ages.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” Bush said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Bush heard of the Ramblers’ success through text messages from friends in the United States until former teammate Matt Jung contacted him about attending the third-round game, after which he was able to see the team’s success in person.
“We were all players at Loyola 21 years ago, so for us this was impossible to miss,” Jung said. He also traveled from China to attend the Sweet 16 game.
The Ramblers won 69-68 against the Wolf Pack and will advance to the Elite Eight game on Saturday, where they will play either Kansas State University or the University of Kentucky.