Category 5, the Student Government spirit programming board, is looking to reach out and include more Miami sports, and has a new and exciting event in store for Canes basketball fans.
Spurred by its never-ending quest for higher attendance at UM athletic events and its desire to foster a stronger fan culture, the student-run organization plans to shift a lot of its focus toward programs that have been overlooked in the past. This year volleyball, soccer and the Olympic sports, like swimming, rowing and tennis, will be included and emphasized in the incentive-based Hurricane Force program.
“We’re offering points for literally every event you could possibly go to,” Category 5 chair Caitlin Giles said. These points can then be turned into prizes ranging from koozies or foam fingers in the lower levels, to customized Category 5 sunglasses, right up to signed memorabilia from every team for the person who accumulates the most points.
And the premise seems to be working.
“I know that before the Hurricane Force program launched the average attendance [for women’s basketball] was at 20 a game,” vice-chair Javier Hernandez said. “I checked the numbers for last year and they’re now at 110 a game.”But even with the progress they have already made, Category 5 keeps looking for new ways to get students involved and attract them to games. That’s where the idea for “Miami Madness” was born. “Miami Madness was actually brought to us by Coach Larranaga,” Hernandez said. “It’s something that he did back in George Mason and Bowling Green. It’s basically the way to connect students to our basketball team.”
The first-time event will take place on Oct. 20 at the BankUnited Center, and is set to open its gates at 7:30 p.m. It will feature a competition in which fans, players and coaches are split up into two teams contending for various prizes. One team will be led by Coach Larranaga and the other by Katie Meier, the head coach of the women’s team.
Students and players alike will then compete in on-court activities such as three-point shots, dribbling races and much more.
“The whole program is focused at the students and introducing the basketball team. So it’s interactive with the students,” Giles said.
Hopes and expectations are high, as Larranaga has had huge success with the event at his previous schools.
Hernandez, a Miami native who is all too familiar with the fact that his hometown is more of a football-centered culture than a basketball one, was quick to point out why students should attend Miami Madness.
“I expect it to be high-intensity, high-energy and it’s going to be led by the two most charismatic coaches in the nation.”