Many years ago, Sam Martin was the little girl looking up to the athletes who she idolized, and on Thursday night she got to see what the other side of the fence looked like.
An estimated 1,000 Ram fans filtered into Moby Arena to watch the players of the men’s and women’s basketball teams showcase their skills. At the conclusion of the event, many of them lined up for their opportunity to meet the athletes and get their autographs.
“It’s always fun just because when you think about it, I was that same little kid. I used to be the kid going to watch (Denver University) and looking up to all of those girls,” Martin said. “So you kind of have to keep that in perspective and it’s fun to be that person for someone else.”
The Moby Madness lineup featured new team introductions, three-point shooting and slam dunk contests and 10-minute scrimmage from each team.
The Moby crowd was most engaged when men’s basketball newcomers Marcus Holt and Carlton Hurst challenged Daniel Bejarano in the slam dunk contest. Despite scoring lower overall points, Holt was crowned the king of the contest thanks to his behind-the-back two-handed jam and 360-degree spin slammer.
The transfer from Paris Junior College is undefeated in his career with slam dunk contests, and he kept the streak alive Thursday.
“They kind of just signed me up for it and I volunteered with it. I’ve never lost one before and it was a way to establish myself on the team and get my name out there,” Holt said. “Carlton gave me my money’s worth but it was fun. It’s great to get my team and the crowd going.”
The three-point contest matched up the best shooter from each team in a head-on competition. Martin represented the women’s team while Navy transfer J.J. Avila took the court for the men.
The two put up as many attempts as they could in one minute and Martin edged Avila by only two.
“I heard he’s a really good shooter because he’s new. I’m sure we could go at it a few times and it would go neck-to-neck every time,” Martin said. “We had a little trash talk going beforehand so I’ll keep the trophy for the year and he can try to win it back next year when I’m gone. In all seriousness though it all was just for the fun.”
Aside from the competitions, Moby Madness provided an opportunity for each team to function with fans and its new members as one unit.
Both the men’s and women’s teams begin regular season play on Nov. 8 against CU-Colorado Springs at home in Moby.
“It’s a great night for the fans to interact but it was a great night for us too,” women’s head coach Ryun Williams said. “It’s important for our players to understand how important they are to our fans. It was just a prideful evening, these are always fun nights.”
Sports Editor Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @QSickafoose.