A timeout with the teams

Players from both Weber State’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, the Weber State cheerleaders and Waldo the Wildcat all came out for a school spirited event with fans of all ages on Oct. 18.

Weber State University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams met at the Dee Events Center to meet fans on Oct. 18.

For the first time, Weber State hosted an event called “Night with the Wildcats, where members of the community were able to meet basketball players, coaches, spirit squad members and mascot Waldo the Wildcat.

Marketing and Operations Assistant Nick Downs organized the event with hopes of making it a tradition.

“We wanted to trial run this and say ‘Okay, how can we get everybody involved, do the basics really well and get the fans here to engage with our players’ and say, ‘Hey, it’s basketball season,’” Downs said.

Kaiija Lesane, sophomore guard on the women’s team, was one of the players in attendance.

“A lot of times fans come out, but they don’t really know the players who they’re supporting,” Lesane said. “I feel like it gives the community a chance to connect with the players and know who they’re supporting and what they’re supporting.”

Wildcat coaches are hoping that events like this give Weber State a huge fan-base this upcoming season full of students, alumni and community members.

“We’re looking for excitement, enthusiasm and young faces,” Eric Duft, head coach for the men’s team, said. “We’ve got some great, loyal fans that have been here for years and years, but we need to get some new faces in here, some new features.”

Not only are the coaches excited to see the Dee Events Center during playing time, but so are the players, as the men’s season begins Nov. 2, and the women’s season begins Nov. 13.

“We got a nice crowd here,” men’s guard Keith Dinwiddie , said. “I would only think it’s right that everyone would pop out for the first game at least, so they can see what we have to offer.”

Both teams were able to win a playoff game last season, both falling to their Montana State counterparts, who both went on to take home Big Sky titles. Known for their skilled forwards, the women’s basketball team finished last year with the most wins in a Weber State season since 2018, something women’s head coach Velaida Harris is looking to build upon.

“I’m hoping that the people get to understand how hard we’ve been working to get these wins and get these W’s and get this program back to where we want it to be,” Harris said. “In the last twenty-something years, there’s only been a few winning teams. Historically, this group has been working so hard over the last three years to get it back, so I hope the fans can appreciate the work that they put in and see a good product on the floor.”

The men’s basketball team has their opening game against Adams State on Nov. 2 in the Dee Events Center while the women’s team’s season begins on Nov. 13 in Boise, Idaho.