By Lisa Striffolino
Midnight Madness was expected to entertain over 500 students on Sunday, Oct. 16, in the Bob Martinez Center. Last hosted at The University of Tampa in 2019, the event is a pep rally full of performances and basketball. In the past, Midnight Madness has hosted up to 1,000 students, but the passion for the event has since died out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event featured both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, with performances from the cheerleading team, Unified Dance Crew, the Spanish Dance Team, and the Spartan Scarlets, and included activities like skills challenges, contests, and more.
Torrie Winsett, was a student at UT during the last Midnight Madness and is now in charge of hosting this year’s event.
“I worked in Athletic Marketing as a student and I loved to see everyone come together and support college athletics,” said Winsett, director of sports marketing and promotions at UT. “This was a way for our athletes to get to know the rest of the student body.”
Student Productions, the organization that helped host the event, hopes that this will bring the school spirit back to UT which has been lost over the years.
“The goal behind Midnight Madness is simple,” said Quin Anderson, student productions general programmer. “Bring more school spirit, fun, and support to The University of Tampa and our NCAA Men and Women’s basketball teams. There is nothing I would like to do more than grow our spartan spirit.”
Students were getting excited for the spirited event with teasers of activities and prizes that were given out, including novelties that ranged all the way from free T-shirts to Xboxes.
“I was getting excited following the Midnight Madness Instagram because the reveals were getting bigger each time,” said Lucia Sacerdoti, sophomore communications major. “I wanted to tag all of my friends on the posts to win the prizes at the events.”
The Spartan Scarlets, one of three dance teams that performed at the event, were looking forward to showing off what they had to offer. Gina Schmidt, Spartan Scarlets dance member, says that she was excited to perform herself, as well as watch all of the other dance groups and basketball teams too.
“I feel like we don’t have a ton of school spirit just because we don’t have a football team which is a huge contributor at other colleges,” said Schmidt, sophomore accounting major. “I think [Midnight Madness] will show the school that even though we don’t have a huge football team, we have a lot of other teams that work just as hard.”
The timeline for Sunday’s pep rally was timed out to the minute, with notes of exactly which type of music was to be played at each moment.
The Instagram account for the event, @utmadness, grossed a following of almost 300 students since it was created in mid-September. The Student Productions team, who runs the social media account, plans to continue to grow the following, as well as attendance for this annual school-spirit event as years go on.