Photo by Autumn Walter | Men’s and women’s basketball was given a warm welcome back before the new season begins.
On Oct. 18, the University of Rhode Island hosted their annual Rhody Madness event to welcome the men’s and women’s basketball team and hype up the incoming season, accompanied by a concert from hip-hop artist Lil Baby.
The night began with the introductions of the women’s basketball team. Head Coach Daynia La-Force and her coaching staff were brought onto the stage with the team. She urged the students present at the event to come out and support them during home games, as the energy brought to the Ryan Center can positively impact their performance during game time.
Immediately after, the men’s basketball team was brought onto the stage. Head Coach David Cox was introduced along with his coaching staff. Cox spoke to the students in attendance and also urged them to not only support the men’s basketball team by creating a large turnout at home games but to support the women’s basketball team as well. Each player made their grand entrance with a specific song blasting from the speakers. Jeff Dowtin walked out to “Wifi Lit” by Future, and Eric Dadika entered with “Trap House” by Young Boy.
After the basketball players left the stage, Lil Baby took over. He performed many songs, some of which came from his recent joint album with rapper Gunna, “Drip Harder.” The album debuted at number four on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 Chart. Lil Baby also performed songs from his first studio album, “Harder Than Ever,” which debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 Chart. He performed hits such as “Yes Indeed,” “Close Friends” and “Drip Too Hard.”
Matt Moeller, the associate athletic director for marketing at URI, led the marketing team that promoted Rhody Madness to the student body. This year, Rhody Madness proved to be difficult for Moeller because the event included a full concert.
“With [the event] happening for the first time as a full concert, there was just some additional elements that we needed to factor in,” Moeller said.
However, Moeller found himself very pleased with how the event turned out. “This year’s event was a huge success,” Moeller said. “Something that we wanted to take a different approach this year, with Coach Cox’s first year as head coach, was to target students specifically. We feel like both programs loved it and the general fan loved the concert element as well.”
An event like Rhody Madness takes a lot of planning. The event was organized mainly by the Student Entertainment Committee, URI Athletics and the Ryan Center.
“We needed to really be able to explain that both to the student population with the understanding that this is more of a concert versus how Rhody madness has occurred in past years,” Moeller said. “There were a lot of students that were unsure but then also to the general public that may have brought their families to previous Rhody Madness events, explaining that it was more of a concert.”
The students play a very large role in bringing this event together and making it successful. The event doesn’t only affect the students who paid to attend the event but also the students working the event as well. Junior Ellie Mohanty spoke on the event and the spirit it invokes in her. “The hype and school spirit students show towards seeing the basketball players and the concert gets the spirit so much higher.”
Sophomore Seth Wojciechowski is a student with the on-campus fire department who worked the event. Wojciechowski has worked basketball games at the Ryan Center, however, this event requires much more preparation to ensure the safety of the students. “It feels a little weird,“ Wojciechowski said. “I’m a student, but also, I have a duty to oversee and make sure no one does anything stupid.”
Be on the lookout for upcoming events later this fall and next semester at the Ryan Center. “We’re excited to work with the SEC on a few shows that we’ve got lined up that hopefully, we’re able to announce fairly soon,” Moeller said.