Despite the Binghamton University men’s basketball team’s 0-23 record, approximately 100 Bearcat fans, including alumni, students, faculty and community members, attended this year’s Winter Madness tailgate party, the biggest on-campus alumni gathering of the season.
A bearcat ice sculpture, the presentation of the Exemplary Student Award and a large game of “Simon Says” were among the highlights of the indoor tailgate, which was held at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the West Gym, between the women’s game at 2:30 p.m. and the men’s game at 7 p.m.
“It’s a great opportunity for a lot of different groups to interact with each other,” said Steven Seepersaud, the communications manager of the Office of Alumni Relations. “It’s kind of like Homecoming but on a much smaller scale.”
Winter Madness is the largest event hosted by the Alumni Association each year, and alumni from all over New York came to support the basketball team. According to Seepersaud, alumni particularly enjoyed the opportunity to talk to current students.
“[Alumni] have said that they like talking to students to see what they are doing, and to hear about all the changes to the school,” Seepersaud said. “It makes people say ‘Wow, I’d like to be a student again!’”
Early on in the event, University President Harvey Stenger participated in the presentation of the Exemplary Student Award — an award given by the Alumni Association each year to a student who demonstrated academic excellence and involvement on and off campus — to Ronald Ziemba, a senior majoring in actuarial science and economics. Ziemba said that after receiving the award he stayed at Winter Madness talking with the judges until the basketball game started.
Attendees particularly enjoyed a large game of “Simon Says,” with more than 20 participants, including several members of the women’s basketball team.
“My favorite parts were waiting for the basketball game and Simon Says,” said Carter Lesao, the 6-year-old son of Greg Lesao ’85.
Jerry Putman ‘76 said he enjoys seeing the physical changes to campus.
“It’s grown tremendously since I went here,” Putman said. “When I was here we didn’t have all the dorms we have today, we didn’t have the Events Center, and we didn’t have Academic A or Academic B. And they closed the pub!”
Putman, a Bearcat basketball season ticket holder, was hopeful that the team would get its first win of the season.
“Our team is young, the men’s team has a tremendous amount of talent and they’re close to that first win,” Putnam said. “Having Division I basketball is great.”
President Stenger said he attended Winter Madness to meet the alumni and show his support.
“Binghamton University has a large community of people who care and are interested in seeing our athletes succeed and Winter Madness gave us all an opportunity to show it,” Stenger said.