Students react to First Night failure to set up hoop

10/15/2021 First Night by Kevin Lindstrom The UConn basketball teams introduce themselves to the student body through friendly competition in Gampel Pavillion on Oct. 15, 2021. While there normally is a concert prior to the players entering the court, this years event did not have one. Furthermore, many students left after one of the baskets could not be set up after player introductions.

Last Friday, the University of Connecticut Athletics Department held First Night at Gampel Pavilion, an annual event for UConn students to introduce the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams.  

The event had nearly 6,000 students in attendance and included a block party, team introductions and a planned scrimmage game, according to UConn Athletics.  

The scheduled scrimmage did not occur as planned as staff were unable to install the hoop on the opposite side of the court. The hoop had been moved to make space for the stage used for team introductions. Last year, First Night was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Patrick McKenna, senior associate director of Athletics/Strategic Communications and Creative Content, spoke about the hoop malfunction over email. 

“In advance of the event, the reinstallation of the stanchion was rehearsed multiple times and completed successfully in about five minutes. We regret what happened during the event and hope the students in attendance still had a good time,” McKenna said.  

After the hoop could not be installed, the event organizers put on an impromptu men’s dunk contest as well as other improvised activities. Many students left the event early, with a majority of students in attendance leaving about an hour and a half after the start of the event.  

Sarah Imran is a third semester molecular and cell biology student who attended the event. She described in person the event as fostering community despite issues with the hoop.  

“It was really fun to see everyone together again, everyone getting hyped up; I really felt a sense of community,” Imran said. “It was exhilarating. It was fun at the beginning, but then it died down at the end because they couldn’t get the hoop up.” 

McKenna concurred with the sentiment saying the turnout and energy was electric. 

“We were thrilled with the student turnout and grateful for the energy they brought to the block party and into Gampel on Friday night,” McKenna said. “Nearly 6,000 students attended the event and we hope to see them again during the basketball seasons.” 

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