While nearly everyone at the University of Rhode Island was closely following the men’s basketball team throughout the playoffs, some members of the community were following closer than others.
Thanks to a few plane rides, a handful of Ubers and several hundred dollars, Ramettes Hannah Ritchie, Rachel Silva, Cassie Clifford and Sam Angell were able to attend the three games played in Pittsburgh and the first of two games played in Sacramento. For a group of dancers who only ever cheer the team on at home games, being able to follow them through the postseason was a unique experience.
“We’re just really big fans and we really wanted to be there,” Silva, a junior double major in microbiology and medical lab sciences, said. “This kind of thing doesn’t ever really happen. We wanted to be there to support them and I’m really glad I got to experience it.”
The group sought out flights and tickets to watch the three games in Pittsburgh well in advance, but it came down to pure luck that they were able to attend the first Sacramento game. Their tickets to California had been booked months beforehand, where they planned to stay with Richie’s parents in Santa Clarita for spring break.
It was not until they were all out at dinner together on Selection Sunday that they learned the men’s team would play in Sacramento. Learning that they would be able to attend another game after watching the team win the Atlantic 10 Tournament was Silva’s favorite moment of the entire experience.
“When we saw them being picked to go to California, we were all standing up and jumping up and down in the restaurant screaming,” Silva said. “The entire restaurant was watching us.”
At that point it was meant to be, according to Silva. The six-hour drive way no issue for her or any of the other girls. Joining them were teammates Olivia Civiello and Hailee Sechio. For Civiello, a junior kinesiology major, she said they “couldn’t not go.”
“It was like once in a lifetime,” Civiello said. “We haven’t made NCAA in 18 years. Why not if we’re in California? It’s something we’ll remember forever.”
Despite the fact that the group got to meet NBA veteran and URI alumnus Lamar Odom, Civiello said her favorite part of the Creighton game was being able to cheer the team on with the rest of the crowd, even though they could not be there as the Ramettes.
Sechio, a junior communications major on exchange at California State University, Northridge, said that the energy from the crowd was amazing.
“I was looking at Creighton’s fans and I was looking at our fans, and I thought ‘wow, our fans are unreal,’” Sechio said. “Everyone was so excited and pumped. Everyone was on their feet.”
According to Silva, the group was very superstitious when it came to their game rituals. Silva said they carried twelve foam fingers to every game they attended, and lined the insides of the foam fingers with bits of balloons that were dropped on the court after the team won the A-10’s.
Normally the floor is reserved for players, coaches and family only, but guard Jarvis Garrett noticed the Ramettes and pulled them down into the celebrations, according to Clifford. The four of them were even able to take a photo together with the A-10 trophy.
Angell, a junior ocean engineering and French major, said that the first thing the team did after winning, however, was run over to the fan section.
“I know they do really well when they have a lot of response from fans and I know the student section is really important to them,” Angell said.
When the group went on to attend the game in Sacramento, they were met by many of the same Rhody super fans they had seen in Pittsburgh and at home games during the regular season. Silva laughed about competing for Jumbotron time with a group of men who were seated behind them for all four games.
“There were a lot of common faces in the crowd at the games,” Clifford said. “I thought that was really cool that they were there to show support for the team.”
Due to scheduling issues, none of the Ramettes were able to push back their flights and stay for the game against Oregon on Sunday. All of them were upset that they were not there to cheer on the team, but they are hopeful about the program’s prospects next year.
“It’s heartbreaking, but they did what they could,” Silva said. “They have a lot to be proud of.”