Manchester University
Oak Leaves

October 25, 2019

Nate Conley

Nate Conley, the new men's basketball coach, was introduced at Manchester Madness.
Photo by Chloe Arndt

Manchester Madness Builds Excitement for the Upcoming Basketball Season

Mackenzie Kopplin


When a brisk wind flows through campus, leaves fall all around and people mill into the PERC, you know what that means: Basketball season is here for Manchester University. The men’s and women’s seasons tipped off on Thursday, October 17, with Manchester Madness.

Manchester Madness has been a campus tradition for the last several years. The event is presented by Manchester students who take marketing and sponsorship in sports management, or BUS 363, with Sun J. Kang, assistant professor of sports management, and also students who take BUS 369, event and facility management with Ryan Hedstrom, associate professor of exercise and sport sciences. Both of these classes are required for sports management majors.

This year the event was themed Throwback Thursday and it did not disappoint. As students walked into the PERC, they could hear the music blaring for the gym, but they couldn’t make a direct route to the bleachers. Instead, students had to first pick up a raffle ticket from down the hallway, which was filled with colorful lights and music, towards the locker rooms, and they entered the gym from the other side of the court. The gym was ablaze with colorful lights and the roar of chatter from students in the stands. This already exciting atmosphere was enhanced with the fantastic playlist that was created with throwback tunes from the seventies to today.

Once seated in the bleachers, students were given the view of both teams with a full bench, and a projector screen that presented an introduction for both Spartan lineups with a comical view into players’ personalities. Handshakes, dance moves, creative shots, and embraces between teammates allowed students to dive deeper into who the team members really are.

Along with player introductions, the Spartans also introduced several new coaches. The coaching staff for the men’s team is entirely new with head coach Nate Conley and assistant coach Ryan Strohm taking the reins. For the women’s team, head coach Josh Dzurick remains the same, but alumna Faith-Alexis Graham has joined in the role of assistant coach. Graham graduated in 2018, and spent four years on the basketball team, where she started every season. Once all the introductions were made it was time to get down to business. The emcees for the night, senior Christian Poole and Brandon Egolf, took over and tried their best to bring the crowd back to attention for the rest of the festivities.

To get the ball rolling (or bouncing), the first competition was a three-point contest between two members of the crowd with rebounding help from MU basketball players. Both participants were very excited, and both had a pretty good jump shot to keep the crowd entertained. After each different segment of the night, the emcees selected a raffle ticket out of a bucket and one lucky MU student would win some great fan gear for the upcoming season.  After a few students walked away with their new gear, the Spartanettes took the court to show off some impressive dance moves and great dedication. Senior captains Jayla Sharp and Chynna Miller choreographed a great dance to show off their team’s skills and talent. However, they did not anticipate Michael Dixon to show them up in the next event: a dance competition between the two basketball teams. Two student representatives were picked from the crowd to lead a team. The men’s team started off strong and the women came back with not quite as strong but still a good performance. As both teams got more into the event, Dixon made an appearance that knocked the women’s team out of the park with extremely memorable dance moves. To try to give the women new life, assistant coach Graham stepped up and battled Dixon. However, it wasn’t quite enough, and the men took the win.

To finish off the event, there was a full-court shooting contest the consisted of making a layup, a free throw, a three-point shot, and a half-court shot. Four contestants were picked to shoot head to head and the winner was first year Rodney Mitchell. He beat senior Jordan Napier in the first round then took on junior Wilson Lopshire in the championship. Lopshire beat sophomore Dori Bammer in his first appearance.

Manchester Madness was a fun-filled night to kick off basketball season. Players, coaches, and students are all excited to see what is to come for both teams. The men’s season kicks off on Thursday, November 7, at PFW. The women’s team begins their season on Friday, November 8, at home against Adrian College.