Keaney Gym played host to more than 700 University of Rhode Island students, who filled the bleachers to enjoy a Thursday night that was filled with games and various dancing routines that simultaneously induced cheer and laughter.

The guests of honor, the URI football team, looked on, as they prepared for their matchup against the ranked Richmond Spiders on Saturday. The team’s victory over Delaware, two weeks ago, clearly helped in setting a tone of optimism and pride for a team that has not given much to cheer about lately. The timing of the shutout win aligned perfectly with the rally, which saw its purpose of motivating the crowd and the team.

The event featured performances by the cheerleading team, the URI Dance Company, the Ramettes and the URI Drumline, whose rendition of Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) complete with the popular dance of course, caused the crowd to join. The building was rocking for most of the night as students, alumni and athletes clearly enjoyed the feeling of school spirit that can allow them to temporarily escape the daily stresses of student life.

The spirited crowd set the tone for an excitable evening that accomplished its goal in making the football players feel appreciated and motivated for homecoming weekend. While some athletes find pep rallies corny, the Rams and their fans seemed to enjoy even the juvenile games that were included – who could keep two balloons in the air the longest.

The night concluded with a bonfire that further added to the sense of unity shared by the team and student body.

The players, sporting their grey hoodies, were laid back as the night wound down, still joking and laughing, as well as taking some pictures in front of the blistering fire. Quarterback Paul Mroz was noticeably in good spirits, soaking in his first Rhody Rally. Members of the basketball team were also present including fellow big men Earl Watson and Ifeanyi Onyekaba.

The most notable aspect that came out of the rally was the confirmation of a strong fan base that shares enthusiasm for their clubs, football team and school, as the gymnasium teemed with Ram pride and Richmond contempt.