By Rachel Stengel
It’s to infinity and beyond as Midnight MAACness Goes Galactic tonight. Rider’s annual kick-off celebration for the basketball season will begin at 8 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center (SRC) with some out-of-this-world Pre-MAACness festivities including glow-in-the-dark face paint, velcro moon boot races and outer-space delicacies such as moon pies and milkyways.
“It’s just become one of Rider’s biggest traditions on campus, and every year we just try to do it better and better than ever,” Karin Torchia, associate director of athletics, said.
Midnight MAACness will feature a slam-dunk contest and performances from the dance team and the cheerleaders, as well as a DJ to pump up the crowd before the introduction of the 2011-2012 men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Junior Jeanette Rudnicki, a third-year member of the dance team, believes that this year’s MAACness will be the best yet.
“The dance team’s performance coincides with the galactic theme — our music, our outfits and the overall performance,” Rudnicki said. “I don’t want to give any hints away, but it’s going to be really awesome.”
The highly anticipated event organized by the Athletics Department, the Office of Campus Life, Student Government Association, Student Entertainment Council, Emerging Leaders, Association of Commuting Students and Greek Council will open its doors to the Alumni Gym at 10 p.m., and the program begins at 10:30 p.m.
“We do have a very special opening that will incorporate our Bronc,” Torchia said, but refused to reveal any more details. She urges students to get their seats early to see the surprise opening ceremony.
MAACness started in the early 1990s as Cranberry and White Night to showcase the men’s basketball team, according to Torchia. When Rider joined the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) in 1997, Rider decided to do its own spin-off of the traditional Midnight Madness and create its own celebration — Midnight MAACness.
The tradition continues to enthuse the basketball teams as pratice for the season officially begins.
“The support of our campus community means so much to the basketball program,” Thomas Dempsey, head coach of the men’s basketball team, said. “It is always a packed house so I tell the players to take a good look around. I tell them that if we play great basketball and put a team on the court that this university is proud of than we will have the Broncs Zoo packed all year long.”
Lynn Milligan, head coach of the women’s basketball team agreed.
“Our team looks forward to the event every year and it is very appreciative of the students who come out to show their support for both teams,” Milligan said. “It truly marks the beginning of the season and gives our team a boost as we continue to prepare for a great season.”
There will be a few modifications to Rider’s annual tradition, according to Torchia. Rather than giving out T-shirts when students enter the Alumni Gym, the first 1,000 will be given vouchers for T-shirts that can be redeemed after the event. Also, students must bring their ID cards. They will be swiped for entrance. No guests are permitted.
“I hope that [Midnight MAACness] starts the school spirit,” Torchia said. “We get such great support from the student body and the campus community and we hope that it translates throughout the season for both teams.”