Last Monday, Nov. 6, Samford Women’s Basketball defeated the Auburn-Montgomery Warhawks 78-51. The Bulldogs packed the Pete Hanna Center at the season opener, breaking the attendance record for a Samford women’s sporting event, as 1,621 fans filled the seats.
Head Coach Carley Kuhns was excited to be breaking the record for attendance and what that means for the team.
“What an incredible opportunity for our kids to be able to play in front of that many people,” Kuhns said.
In celebration of National Education Day, four elementary schools and a middle school band were invited to attend the event, which helped contribute to the record number of fans.
Claire Trammell, a senior Samford student, was impressed by the amount of elementary school students present.
“It was very loud; there was lots of high-pitched screaming,” Trammell said. “It was nice seeing the kids there getting excited, and I think the team appreciated it too.”
The idea of hosting the event came from the Samford Marketing Department collaborating with Deputy Director of Athletics for Student-Athlete Well-Being Michelle Durban.
“This is where the marketing is great because coaches and administrators come to them with ideas, and they are able to help execute them,” Durban said.
The event has been in the works since last spring. The goal was to set up an opportunity for other schools to celebrate National Education Day with a field trip to the Pete Hanna Center.
Guard Masyn Marchbanks was motivated on the court by the large crowd.
“I felt we had the momentum the whole time because we fed off the crowd’s energy. It was awesome seeing all the students so happy to be there,” Marchbanks said.
Durban also noticed the energy the crowd brought to the game.
“It was the first time I’ve worn earplugs in the Hanna Center. There was a lot of screaming,” Durban said.
Unfortunately, due to the 11:00 a.m. tip-off, many Samford students could not attend, creating a somewhat empty student section.
“Overall, the energy was great. I just wish there were more Samford students there; the women’s team deserves just as much praise and support, and not just from kids on a field trip,” Trammell said.
Although students’ concerns were reasonable, Durban explained that the logic behind the tip-off time was planned around the elementary school students.
“It’s definitely a different time for women’s basketball to play usually,” Durban said. “Normally, you’re not playing at 11 in the morning.”
Durban added that the early start was also built around transportation, with school buses needing to be coordinated at specific times for the kids to attend the game.
“In order to make it education day, you must play early so that the buses can come. It was all orchestrated around the kids and their experience,” Durban said.
Overall, the event was a success. The bridge between the marketing and basketball teams was perfectly connected with this celebration of education.
“Marketing has done a really great job at trying to build the community,” Durban said. “The girls can see these players and say, ‘Hey, I can do that too!’”
Samford kept the magic going with a thrilling 65-62 win over Central Arkansas and will look to move to 3-0 on Tuesday, Nov. 14, with a road trip to Troy.