Return of the MAACness

Rider Dance Team poses with AJ the Bronc at MAACness. Photo courtesy of Andrew Xon

By: Tristan Leach

With a 90s theme, excitement ringing through the air and many events rolled into one, MAACness returned on Oct.15 to ring in the unofficial start of basketball season at Rider.

The event is a favorite among students and staff. A line wrapped around the exterior of the gymnasium as excited students talked and waited in anticipation for the doors to be opened. For many students, this was their first MAACness. 

Camryn Quimby, a senior criminal justice major said, “I’m not sure what I’m expecting to see. I’ve heard a lot of hype about this event. I’m very excited and I’m excited to meet the basketball teams.”

MAACness is a time-honored tradition that celebrates the start of basketball season on campus. The event included the introduction of  Rider’s Men’s and Women’s basketball teams along with their coaches. Rider Cheerleading and Rider Dance Team performed for the event. 

The school mascot, AJ the Bronc, and the Rider Cheerleading and Rider Dance Team were already on the floor, dancing and welcoming students to a new year. AJ sported zebra pants, an MTV t-shirt and a striped vest following this year’s theme, “Totally 90s.”

The event began with a countdown to the start of MAACness and the basketball season. A highlight reel from the 2020 season was played on the big screen, highlighting the best parts of both teams’ year. Students talked excitedly about last year’s season and what this season would be like. 

After the reel, the men’s and women’s teams were introduced. Each player’s introduction included their name, position, height and where they were from. Every player walked out from behind a curtain to enthusiastic applause. As they walked to join their teammates on the gym floor, they threw a shirt into the audience of excited students. 

After the whole of the team’s were introduced, so were their coaches. Lynn Milligan is the head coach for the women’s team and Kevin Baggett is the head coach for the Men’s team. 

As part of the fun, games took place. Audience members participated in basketball musical chairs and a game of who can make a basket first. Prizes were $50 Visa gift cards. The men’s and women’s teams went head to head in a timed test of their skills. In the end the women’s team won. During all the amusement, Rider Pep Band played for the crowd. 

In between the  games, the nominees for Cranberry Court were introduced. Their many achievements at Rider were read out loud for the audience, too, highlighting why these students were the perfect fit for the honor. 

When it came time for performances, Rider Cheerleading was up first. This was the team’s first performance of the school year. The squad performed some of their best tricks, wowing audience members and teammates alike. Lauren-Carmel Sirak, the head coach for the team said, “It has been fun; it has been challenging. We are in a rebuilding year; we have a lot of new recruits this year, and they have done so well. They have pushed through, they have tried new things. It’s been eventful, it’s been challenging but has also been rewarding.”

To close out the night, Rider Dance Team performed a routine to a six-minute-long megamix of songs from the 90s. The team sported various outfits reminiscent of the 90s: oversized flannel shirts, bandanas around their heads and that sharp winged eyeliner that could be seen from a mile away. Audience members cheered on the team as they danced their hearts out.

Anna Fredeen, a senior dance science major, said of the experience, “It’s so good to be performing again. We went about a year and a half without performing like this. So to be out on the court again was… and to have a live audience again. Especially one that hypes you up as much as this one does here. We worked really hard for it. I can’t believe that it’s over.” 

At the end of the night, audience members left their seats with excitement. The basketball teams thanked everyone for coming, offering high fives and smiles. 

Let another great season begin.

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