Friday the MAACteenth: AJ’s revenge

By Tristan E. M. Leach 

Rider Women's Basketball team poses for photo
The women’s basketball team for the 2023-24 season.
Photo courtesy of Peter G. Borg

EXCITED students rushed under the inflatable skeleton archway and into the lobby of Alumni Gym, where a graveyard scene met the eyes of students and guests of the impending night. Inside the gym, AJ the Bronc waited to begin the thrilling event: MAACness. 

On Oct. 13, the Rider Cheer Team, Dance Team and Pep Band came together to celebrate the upcoming men’s and women’s basketball seasons. This year’s MAACness theme was “Friday the 13th,” and AJ came dressed as Jason Voorhees, the killer from the popular slasher films named after the infamous day. The dance and cheer teams wore blood-splattered T-shirts, and in the audience, students and guests dressed in horror film attire. 

Before MAACness truly began, the energy on the court made its way into the audience. Students partied in the bleachers and were hyped up by the dance team. The sounds of laughter and cheering filled the gym, a great start to the much-anticipated night. 

This year’s festivities started with a short film of AJ and members of the university acting out some famous horror movie scenes. Nick Barbati, assistant vice president for student affairs, made an appearance by acting out the shower-death scene from “Psycho,” which was a crowd favorite. After the short film, a highlight reel was played showcasing the best plays from the men’s and women’s teams last year. Students and guests cheered when their favorite player appeared on the screen. 

Then, it was time to see the real thing as team introductions began. From behind a curtain setup on a small stage, each team member walked out to a song of their choosing. Both the men’s and women’s teams threw T-shirts into the crowd, with many enthusiastic students diving to catch the goodies. Team members from abroad proudly walked out in their home country’s flag, a tradition at Rider that was met with heavy applause and cheering. The coaches of both teams were also introduced to the crowd. 

Games took place throughout the night, with the ever-popular “Big Shoes to Fill” game being the first to be seen. Two students raced to put on an oversized basketball uniform and then make a basket, all while keeping their balance in huge shoes and basketball shorts. “Basketball Musical Chairs” made a return as well with six competitive students having to make a basket and then rush to one of the remaining chairs.

After some good-spirited competition, the cheer team took to the court. Before it started however, Aaliyah Ying ’23 surprised the team with a generous donation of $1000. In the bleachers, students clapped and the team gave Ying a huge group hug. The cheer team wowed the audience with stunning acrobatic tricks and gravity-defying flips. 

The Rider Cheer Team receives a donation.
The Rider Cheer Team receives a generous donation of $1,000 from Aaliyah Yang ‘23, a former member of the team. 
Photo courtesy of Sarah F. Griffin.

Rachel Seigerman, a senior arts and entertainment industries management major, has been on the team for three years. Seigerman found her last MAACness to be bittersweet, but was proud of the team for all the hard work put in.

“We met with our choreographer a couple of times,” said Seigerman with a smile. “We had countless nights of just working on the routine, cleaning things. We had people getting sick, people missing, but ultimately we came together as a team and we did what we know best.”

After the cheer team stunned the crowd, this year’s Cranberry Court nominees were introduced. Fourteen hopeful seniors made their way onto the court with smiles on their faces. One by one, each nominee introduced themselves to the crowd. 

Lindsay Sherman, a senior elementary education major, was one of the nominees. 

“I think [being nominated] is a really big honor. It is really exciting that someone thought of me for something like this,” said Sherman with a giggle. 

Yusef Collins-Bryant, a senior music production major, was also nominated for the honor of Cranberry Court. 

“[Being nominated] feels incredible. I feel so honored to be nominated and I love the energy here today,” said Collins-Bryant. 

For the basketball skills competition, one member from each team was picked after competing against their own teammates. This year, senior guard Molly Lynch from the women’s team and senior forward Mervin James from the men’s team went head to head. In the end, it was Lynch who won the competition, marking the third year in a row that the women’s team has won the challenge. 

When asked how she felt about the win, Lynch said, “Undefeated. We’re undefeated.” 

The Rider's Women's team celebrates win.
The women’s team wins the skills challenge for the third year in a row. This years win was represented by senior guard Molly Lynch.
Photo courtesy of Peter G. Borg.

As the night drew to a close, the dance team made their way to center court. Dancers took their places and the audience screamed with anticipation. In an electrifying seven-and-a-half minute performance, the team captured both the energy of the night and the theme. The performance included references to classic horror movies and popular slasher films, with prop knives being used and bloody makeup applied. Students and guests cheered as the dance came to a close with the team members hitting the floor in a mummy pose.

Marissa Stellato, a senior dance performance major, reflected on the night and the success of MAACness.

“The dance was fantastic. The energy from the audience made our performance even better. [MAACness] is such an amazing experience,” said Stellato.

The Rider Dance team performs for the audience.
The Rider Dance Team performs an energetic and spooky number. 
Photo courtesy of Peter G. Borg.

The night was wrapped up with a reminder that on Oct. 28, the first game of the basketball season will come to Rider when the men’s team plays Georgian Court for a homecoming exhibition.

Watch Bridget Hoyt’s video of MAACness.

Related Articles

Back to top button