KOKOMO, Ind. — Jessica Hatt had never been to an Indiana University Kokomo basketball game before Tuesday night.
Chances are, she will be back.
"Our sports teams are so new, we need our campus to be here to support them and encourage them," she said. "I'm excited to be here to cheer for the Cougars."
Hatt and her Phi Sigma Sigma sorority sisters attended as part of Student Activities Night, an effort to build the crowd, as well as participation in the many organizations available at IU Kokomo.
Brian Arwood, Student Athletic Board director, said clubs, organizations, and sports are all a vital part of the college life experience.
"There is a lot of research showing that students who are involved are more successful academically," he said. "We had great turn out tonight."
The student section was packed with members of Enactus, the M.B.A. Association, the Student Nurse Association, Cougar News, the cross country team, the volleyball team, ROTC, Medical Imaging Club, Psychology Club, Multicultural Student Organization, and Phi Sigma Sigma. Many wore their IU Kokomo red shirts, while a few showed their spirit by painting themselves red and cheering from the front row as the Cougars played Rochester College.
During time outs, Dean Hockney, the voice of the Cougars, read short promotions for student organizations, highlighting what each one offers.
Each group vied to win a pizza party, by having the most students signed in as they arrived at the game. Enactus took top honors, after promoting the event to its members all week.
Enactus members Lisa Ortega and Stephenie McGee were excited to see so many students at the game, especially members of their own club.
"I like to see everyone come out and support the Cougars, and IU Kokomo, and their organizations," McGee said. "It's a great night for all of us."
Ortega said it was a great chance to highlight the many opportunities available on campus.
"The ways you can be involved have grown tremendously, and this puts a great spotlight on them all," she said.
Molly Fisher won pizza for Student Government Association by winning the dizzy bat game at halftime. She was the first to spin around with her head on a bat, run down the court, make a basket, spin again, and run down to make another basket.
She's a regular at the games, and hopes those attending for the first time see how much fun they are, and come back.
"I want everyone to see how much fun you can have in college," she said. "I come to every game that I can, to support my team."
Steven Kiser, a former basketball player, said it's important to the team to have a crowd behind them. He came as a member of Psychology Club and Multicultural Student Organization.
"It feels good when you come out and see a big crowd," he said. "It gives you more motivation when you're playing and getting encouragement."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.