Basketball teams host Hoops ‘n’ Halloween at M.A.C. Center for 2nd consecutive year

Two-year-old Kent resident Ramar Richmond, dressed as Spider-Man, plays on the gym floor of the M.A.C. Center during Hoops n Halloween on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014.

Two-year-old Kent resident Ramar Richmond, dressed as Spider-Man, plays on the gym floor of the M.A.C. Center during Hoops ‘n’ Halloween on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014.

Jimmy Miller

Kent State alumnus Paul Salzgeber returned to campus Sunday evening with his child to see the hype surrounding the “Hoops ‘n’ Halloween” program.

“It’s really family friendly and a great place to bring kids,” Salzgeber said. “Everybody seems to be cool about everything. You don’t see that, ‘I want this to be over with’ kind of thing (from players).’”

Current men’s and women’s basketball team players met at the M.A.C. Center to pass out candy, judge kids’ costumes and ultimately do what they’re expected to later this month — play basketball.

“We try to reach the community as much as we can,” men’s coach Rob Senderoff said. “This is one of those things we try to do…our players are great with young kids, so this is just another opportunity for them to interact with people.”

The two teams, in addition to the cheerleading squad, set up stations throughout the M.A.C. Center, where kids could play games and collect candy. Community families brought their children in costumes, such as Star Wars characters or fairies, and even coaches and players dressed up.

After an hour of passing out candy, players squared off in a short co-ed scrimmage officiated by Senderoff, who dressed as a blind referee for the occasion.

“I think it’s always been special for both programs to spend their first night together,” women’s coach Danielle O’Banion said. “It just builds camaraderie and gives fans something to be excited about.”

Despite pushing the event back to later in the afternoon, few Kent State students attended the event. Senderoff said it’s a goal to get more students to come to the event, but he understands why students perhaps didn’t go.

“I drove downtown last night and I’ve never seen more people on one street before in my life,” Senderoff said. “I’m sure Kent State has an unbelievable Halloween. We figured we’d piggyback off that idea and maybe as people get more familiar with it, more and more (students) would come.”

Hoops ‘n’ Halloween started last year as an effort to revamp the traditional Midnight Madness season preview, where the teams scrimmaged late at night to attract students and garner community interest. O’Banion said the idea draws from the influence basketball has on young families and senior citizens.

“We started it last year and had a great response,” O’Banion said. “I think it’s a great event. Who doesn’t want to come over for free candy?”

The men’s team tips off their season at Youngstown State on Nov. 15, while the women’s team hosts Ohio Christian University on Nov. 7.

“Even with both student sections filled, which hopefully they are, you still need community involvement with your program,” Senderoff said. “We’ll figure something out to try to get more students here, but for us, it’s just a nice thing to do and get people to see our kids and involve the community like this.”

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].