More than 24 hours before the No. 14/16 Murray State Racers tipoff against No. 16/21 Saint Mary’s, a crowd was gathering outside the CFSB Center.
Approximately 10 or 12 fans, bringing blankets, sleeping bags and chairs, began setting up tents at 4 p.m. Friday, exactly 25 hours before the BracketBusters game was scheduled to start.
Word spread of the camping expedition thanks in part to social media.
“We saw on Twitter Neal (Bradley) saying somebody was going to be camping out and that they encouraged others to join,” University student Chrissy Erickson from Joelton, Tenn., said. “We knew if that was on Twitter that other people would be here and we’ve had front row seats for pretty much every game so we wanted our front row seats.”
The fans aren’t the only ones showing support. Racers Coach Steve Prohm brought the campers donuts, as did Murray Ledger and Times Sports Editor Ricky Martin. The Voice of the Racers Neal Bradley brought cookies, Zaxby’s of Murray brought food to the fans and senior forward Donte Poole and junior guard Latreze Mushatt visited the dedicated fans to thank them for their dedication to the Racers.
“It shows us they appreciate it,” graduate student Luka Milicevic from Johannesburg, South Africa said. “We support them, they support us.”
Inspiration behind the campout, originated by Milicevic, graduate student Renaldo Domoney and seniors Leah Freeman, Felicia Webb and Ian Mathes, came from an unusual source.
“We read an article that Gonzaga, when they played Saint Mary’s, camped out for two days and we said it was all part of the college experience so we had to do it,” Milicevic said.
Domoney, from Cape Town, South Africa said they were determined to make the best of the meeting of two ranked teams on senior night.
“When is ESPN coming, we just thought, it’s a big event and we will go big too,” Domoney said.
Nick Alexander from Kirksey, Ky., appreciated the food and support.
“You just can’t get this at a bigger school where you have the connection to the team and the coaches,” he said.
Mathes, from Lexington, Ky., said the visit from Prohm and the players was epic.
“We are fans of the basketball team because it’s our University but they’re normal people too,” Mathes said. “They’re normal everyday people who have achieved above and beyond. I think it’s pretty sweet to be honest.”
The Stampede Members used their time wisely.
“We all just sat out here and talked,” Mathes said. “We all want to sit together, obviously, so we talked about our tactics to be able to get front row and be able to sit together.”
When asked to describe Racer Nation, sophomore Tom Via from Paducah, Ky., had only one thing to say:
“It’s Racer Family now,” Via said. “That’s what we’ve changed it to. There is no way you can top this. This is a great way for the seniors to go out – to have a sellout, on ESPN, Dickie V. there, I don’t think other seniors can be able to top that.”