Student walks away from halfcourt challenge with $500 at Eagle Madness, energizes crowd for upcoming basketball season
By ALEX SPENCE
The UMW students and community alike stood to their feet as silence swept the Ron Rosner Arena. With prize money on the line, freshman Paige Haskins stood anxiously at center court, ready to sink the winning shot. With a running start and hefty heave, the ball soared through the air and the crowd went wild as it rattled through the rim.
Haskins, a member of the University of Mary Washington’s women’s lacrosse, made $500 in just five minutes on Tuesday night’s first ever Eagle Madness event hosted by UMW Athletics.
Both President Troy Paino and Athletic Director Ken Tyler agreed to split the bill for the winning shot as the crowd chanted, “write the check,” “write the check” while UMW students rushed the floor in excitement.
“Originally the ticket was Sarah Hampton’s, a sophomore on the lacrosse team,” Haskins explained of the raffle number that was called. “The girls agreed to let me try because I told them I was good at shooting.”
The rest of the women’s lacrosse team learned just how good she was as they all ran to the court to celebrate.
The grand finale half court shot was just one of many raffles, contests and games played throughout the night, including knock out, musical chairs and a relay race.
Senior communications major Mikey Barnes hosted the event and pumped up the crowd with Eagle Nation chants and loads of energy as both the men’s and women’s basketball teams were introduced along with their respective coaches.
The event served as a pep rally for the upcoming basketball season, hoping to replicate the spirit of larger, Division I programs as the first home games of the basketball season are scheduled for a week after Eagle Madness.
Marcus Khan, the men’s basketball coach, says his goals for the team are to continue getting better every day.
“While I am proud of the progress we have made, I will never be satisfied,” Khan said. “For this upcoming season I am most looking forward to competing alongside a great group of young men.”
Sophomore Johnny Cronin, a member of the men’s basketball team echoes Khan’s goals. “I think it’s important to never be complacent,” Cronin said, a political science major from Springfield, Virginia. “You have to push yourself, because no one is going to push you more than you can.”
Barnes kept the crowd going as he introduced performances by UMW’s dance team, cheerleaders and step team, Alter Egos.
Between performances, the women’s basketball team handed out t-shirts while each member was introduced to the audience.
As senior Megan Green prepares to enter the final season of her UMW basketball career, she admits she couldn’t be more thankful for the family she has found here.
“These girls have changed my life,” Green said, a history major from Burke, Virginia. “They are the greatest group of women I have ever met in my entire life. They are the reason I’m here and loving life.”
While entrance to the event was free of charge, it was encouraged that attendees donate non-perishable food for the UMW Athletics SAAC food drive, which goes to help the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.
Season passes for both the men’s and women’s teams were sold in the Anderson Center’s main lobby, as well as gifted to a few lucky attendees whose raffle tickets were pulled. Other prizes given away included Mary Washington apparel, gift cards to Home Team Grill and Brock’s Riverside Grill as well as $25 Visa cards and more.
While not everyone was chosen to participate in one of the many contests, each person that showed up for the event went home a winner. Free Chick-Fil- A gift cards were given everyone in the arena.
UMW Athletics hopes that the Ron Rosner Arena will be rocking as much on Tuesday, Nov. 15 as it did at Eagle Madness when the men’s and women’s teams host their first home games of the year against Eastern Mennonite and Washington & Lee respectively.