KSU fans, alumni, gather at Sacramento bar ahead of game


Kent State president Beverly Warren enters Fat City Bar and Cafe in Sacramento, California on Friday, March 17, 2017. The Kent State alumni and fan pregame party was held there.

Henry Palattella

While Fat City Bar & Grille in Sacramento, California, may be 2,400 miles from the Memorial Athletic & Convocation Center in Kent, Ohio, the Kent State Alumni Association did its best to bring Kent State pride to Fat City Friday.

The association held a pregame reception at the bar and grille in anticipation of No. 14 Kent State’s March Madness bout against No. 3 UCLA.

The alumni association chose Fat City due to its location to the Golden 1 Center and because they felt it could properly hold the amount of people they were expecting.

“We were ready to (start planning) on Monday morning due to the time difference,” said Brenda Hudkins, director of marketing and communications at Kent State. “We sent an email to all alumni telling them how to purchase tickets to the tournament as well as information of the watch party.”

The Alumni Association also contacted host school Sacramento State to ask for recommendations about locations.

The event was filled with Kent Alumni of all different ages, as well as President Beverly Warren and Athletic Director Joel Nielsen, who each made an appearance.

Michelle Doutrich, who graduated from Kent State in 1983, lives in Parker, Colorado, but was in Sacramento for business the same time as the team.

“(Kent State’s game) coincided with my stay,” Doutrich said. “I came in on Sunday and am scheduled to leave (Saturday). Sunday night I found out that Kent State was in March Madness and tickets were going on sale so I got up at five in the morning to press the button.”

Steve Marks, a 1976 gradate, lives in Sacramento. He said that the decision to come to the game was an easy one.

“I got (an email) asking if I wanted to come, and I was pretty excited about it,” Marks said.

In total, 58 people RSVP’d for the event, and were greeted with a name-tag and shirt as soon as they walked through the door. The Alumni Association also set out rally towels at tables on the lower level, and then had catered food set up on the second floor, as well as a television screen that had other March Madness games playing.

The Alumni Association is also hosting watch parties in Columbus, Charleston, South Carolina and Cleveland.

Although Jason Dorfman, a 2001 Kent State graduate, lives in Orange County, California, that hasn’t let it stop him from following the university’s athletics program.

“For me, Kent has always had a place in my heart that I don’t think can be replaced by any other sport team or allegiance,” Dorfman said. “I follow them like crazy, I bought DIRECTV so I can get an extra game or two since (Kent State) is only on a handful of times per year.”

According to Dorfman, Kent State playing in his current state of California made the decision to come a no-brainer.

“So I blocked off that hour of my day and shut off everything my family was doing so I could watch Selection Sunday,” he said. “I was planning on going anyway as long as it was feasible … (and) once I found out it was interstate California, I booked my trip immediately.”

Henry Palattella is the sports editor, contact him at [email protected].