Over 2,000 BYU students and fans brought unprecedented energy to the Midnight Madness preseason event for basketball held in the Marriott Center Wednesday night, Oct. 23.
The night consisted of several activities for fans to interact with the players from both the men’s and women’s teams. The hype was heightened by performances from the BYU Dunk Team, BYU Vocal Point, the Cougarettes, BYU Cheer Squad and more. The energy hit its peak when men’s coach Mark Pope invited everyone to storm the court after envisioning BYU winning the 2019 West Coast Conference Basketball Tournament.
The power in the room leading up to everyone rushing the court was tangible. Students on the floor held each other back as they waited for the time to rush forward. The crowd started chanting “B-Y-U!” and as Pope finished, the crowd erupted onto the court.
“I want you to understand that we are all in this together, you the fans and these players. We get up every morning and we go to bed every night dreaming of a championship. That’s why we’re here,” Pope said.
Pope invited the audience to practice winning a championship and proceeded to give a play-by-play of BYU winning the championship and asked everyone to carefully rush the floor.
Senior forward Yoeli Childs and the other players joined the fans on the court. He said he was excited to see the hype from all the fans.
“Coach Pope brought a ton of energy and it was really exciting to see how many fans we had out here for a party at midnight,” Childs said.
Midnight Madness replaced the previous preseason event formerly known as “Boomshakalaka.” These events are meant to introduce the teams to the fans, hype the crowd and showcase what to expect for the upcoming season. Over time, former head coach David Rose decided to do away with “Boomshakalaka” and replaced it with what was known as “Cougar Tipoff,” which was an opportunity for people to come watch a BYU men’s basketball intrasquad game while players signed autographs afterward.
BYU athletics marketing coordinator Anna Killpack said their biggest goal for the Midnight Madness event was to give fans the opportunity to engage and connect with the players. It’s hard to get close to players during games, so this event helped provide fans with an opportunity to interact on a personal level with the players. The turn out of 2,737 was bigger than expected.
“I was honestly just hoping to fill the floor, so about 500. So we were pleasantly surprised with the turnout,” Killpack said.
Pope had nothing but positive things to say about the marketing staff who helped put the event together. “The people that work in marketing and the ROC are amazing,” Pope said.
The event was successful in fostering a feeling of connection between fans and players. BYU freshman Brooke Merrill said she loved being able to see all of the players highlighted one by one.
“You don’t usually know the teams very well, so it was cool to have each player individualized and it made me excited to come to basketball games,” Merill said.
It also got the players excited for the season. BYU women’s basketball guard Paisley Johnson said the event was a great opportunity to get fans excited before the seasons starts. It’s great exposure for both the men’s and women’s team.
“It’s good for the fans to stay up late and do something not normal. It’s something that they will remember from their college experience,” she said.
In order to win, Pope said it’s important for everyone to work together — fans and players.
Midnight Madness was more than an event to get people excited for the upcoming season. It helped invigorate the players with determination to work hard and helped connect them on a more personal level with the fans.
“It’s a refresher for these guys at exactly the right time,” Pope said. “ It’s a chance for us to thank these students that are unbelievably committed to supporting the team. Today was important and hopefully, it’s a precursor for great things to come.”