Gator basketball tips off inaugural Pride Night

Allegheny Men’s and Women’s Basketball fall to Oberlin College

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Allegheny College celebrated its first annual Pride Night during a doubleheader Women’s and Men’s Basketball game on Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Wise Sport and Fitness Center. All proceeds from the game went to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization focused on the prevention of suicide among members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“For the inaugural (Pride Night), I thought it went really well,” said Kate Costanzo, head coach of the Women’s basketball team. “We had a good crowd there, and I thought everyone seemed to enjoy the giveaways and pride shirts. I’ve already seen some of them out on campus, so I think it was a good way to show support to the LGBTQ+ community.”

The games featured a Pride T-shirt giveaway and a halftime show that featured trivia and prizes awarded by President of Allegheny College Hillary Link.

Planning for the event began in 2019 when Link met with the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Social Justice Center to discuss the possibility of Pride Night, according to Costanzo. She said the goal of the event was to simultaneously support the LGBTQ+ community and Allegheny athletics.

“We met a couple of times with the IDEAS Center,” Costanzo said. “We got stuff out on social media, and college relations helped with the design of the T-shirt. It was a great way to collaborate across campus and generate a lot of excitement for the cause, and also for the home doubleheader.”

According to Angelica Perez-Johnston, interim director of the IDEAS Center, over 100 T-shirts were ordered and all were given away during the women’s game. Despite the visible role of the IDEAS Center, Perez-Johnston credited Costanzo for the development and success of Pride Night.

Men’s Basketball Head Coach Bob Simmons huddles the team during the second half of the game against Oberlin College. Students watch in the stands wearing Pride Night shirts handed out by the IDEAS center on Jan. 22, 2020, in the Wise Sport and Fitness Center.

“It was (Costanzo’s) original idea, and I just came alongside as a collaborator,” Perez-Johnston said. “We worked together to make sure we were doing everything possible to ensure that not only were we being mindful of the cultural considerations, but also being very intentional in supporting our LGBTQ+ community.”

Both Costanzo and Perez-Johnston said the night was a success and would be continued in the future. Some ideas to improve Pride Night include a presale for T-shirts, a raffle for gift bags, a 50-50 drawing and increased social media marketing of the event.

“I think (Pride Night) is definitely something that can grow,” Perez-Johnston said. “Obviously we have to learn what worked and didn’t work to see how we could expand moving forward.”

Despite the success of Pride Night as a whole, the Men’s and Women’s teams both fell to Oberlin College. The Men’s team was defeated 52-68 and the Women’s team fell 42-52. Through the middle of the season, the Gator teams sit at 10-7 and 7-11, respectively.

The Men’s team was led by a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double from forward Jordan Rawls, ’20. Rawl’s performance was highlighted by a putback dunk over three defenders that received cheers from the crowd. The Gators could not overcome shooting 30% from the field, and Oberlin came out with an early lead on the Gators, which it maintained throughout the game.

The Women’s team out-rebounded Oberlin 45-27, but the team shot 29.3% from the field. Forward Julianna Skowron, ’21, led the Gators with 16 points on the night, and guard Alexis Caldwell, ’23, was close behind with a double double.

Guard Chloe Rabold, ‘22, shoots a free throw against Oberlin College on Jan. 22, 2020, in the Wise Sport and Fitness Center.

Costanzo said the team would have to look to improve heading into the remainder of the season, but she was not discouraged by the loss.

“We never quit,” Costanzo said. “We keep fighting until the end. I was proud of our never-quit mentality. There was a lot of good from (the game) and a lot to learn from it heading into our next game.”

The Men’s team will resume action for their Alumni Game at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, against Wittenberg College at the Wise Center. The Women’s team will tip off against DePauw University at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, at the Wise Center. This will be the annual Play4Kay game in honor of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

The increased turnout of Gator fans for Pride Night and the basketball doubleheader encouraged the team, according to Costanzo.

“It’s always fun for the team to play in front of a packed gym and there was so much energy,” Costanzo said. “Obviously we would have liked to come out with a win on the other end of it, but I think everyone there had a good time. It’s fun to get out and cheer on your team, and the players and coaches certainly appreciate it.”

Allegheny’s first inaugural Pride Night was a success, according to Perez-Johnston and Costanzo, but IDEAS Center student employee Brianna Kenney, ’22, noted that Allegheny must continue to strive toward a more accepting campus environment.

“I’m a big advocate for equality for all, so to walk in and see Allegheny sponsor something that is LGBTQ+ and donating all the proceeds to the Trevor Project is something that means a lot,” Kenney said. “Allegheny is inclusive, but it could do more, so I really appreciate tonight.”

In addition to events like Pride Night, the IDEAS Center will be hosting events throughout February in celebration of Black History Month. A movie will be shown every Thursday evening beginning on Feb. 6, according to Perez-Johnston.