Fan Fest gets Saluki basketball fans ready for season

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

Halloween was in full swing at the Banterra Center on Wednesday night as hundreds dressed in full costume flocked to the Saluki “Dunk or Treat” Fan Fest. 

The event was not only an opportunity for community members to show their support for Saluki men’s and women’s basketball, cheerleading, and shakers, but also gave children and fans a chance to interact with their favorite Saluki athletes. 

Everyone had the chance to step out on the court as dozens of fans of all ages shot hoops and played games with the athletes, while others spoke with coaching staff. 

Advertisement

“It’s a good way for kids to come and have fun, meet the players, and enjoy themselves,” Ronnie Scuggs Jr., who plays on the Saluki men’s team, said. 

Senior Aaron Cook, who also plays for the men’s basketball team, said the event is a way for the teams to give back to the community in return for their support. 

As both the men’s and women’s squads prepare for the start of their official seasons, Fan Fest allows the athletes a chance to encourage more supporters to come out for home games.

“It means a lot. A lot of these are die-hard, dedicated fans, and just shows the support especially for a new team, a new coaching staff, new everything,” Scuggs Jr. said. “The support early on, not even just here, but [also] at our preseason game last week […] just means a lot.” 

Caitlyn Claussen, a senior on the women’s basketball team, said the turnout at Banterra Center shows the fans’ excitement for the season to start up.

“I think the tournament is a lot better than last year, and I think it helps to get us acquainted with the community and the community acquainted with us, and we can get more fans in the stands,” Claussen said. 

Both the men’s and women’s teams hope that their fans will be able to see their efforts put into practice and training every day.

“We’re a team, and we’re going to play hard,” Scuggs Jr. said. “We work hard every day for the fans, and I think the way we work will translate to wins, and I hope that’s what the fans will see.” 

Claussen said this preseason has been one of the best in years for Saluki women’s basketball, and the team wants to show support in return to the community. 

“We’re putting a lot into the community with community service hours, trying to let everyone know that we’re humans, too, and we love Carbondale,” Claussen said. “When they come out and support us, we’ll support them right back.”

Sports reporter Brooke Buerck can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bbuerck25.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

Advertisement