Students and Athletes Meet and Greet at Triton Jam

On Jan. 17, UCSD students had a chance to become well-acquainted with their women’s basketball squad, currently tied for first in California Collegiate Athletic Association play, and their men’s team, sporting the top-ranked defense in the conference, at the fifth-annual Triton Jam.

Billy Wong/Guardian
UCSD’s mascot fires up the crowd of students there to support their favorite Triton athletes at Triton Jam on Jan. 17. After lending their voices, the fans had the chance to win prizes by competing in games such as the free-throw shooting contest.

The first event in the Spirit Night Competition, pitting the six UCSD colleges against each other for a chance at the “Cup of Cheer” trophy, awarded points to the college with the most attendance at Triton Jam and gave students the opportunity to meet UCSD’s athletes and pick up some free stuff along the way.

“Triton Jam is fun because it is a chance for students to show their support for athletes,” said Katie Bourbeau, John Muir College Residents Council Chair.

Whether it was the free Krispy Kremes, the chance to win an Xbox or meeting the athletes, fans came out in droves to participate in the annual event.

Following fan contests and performances by such UCSD groups as the dance team and pep squad, the coaches and players were introduced to the crowd and then had the chance to address the fans.

After meeting the basketball teams, the attendees took advantage of the free food and joined competitions like a free-throw shooting contest and a ball-handling obstacle course to try for prizes such as a mountain bike or free textbooks for the quarter.

The “midnight madness” event was a great way for “students to get excited about the team, get to know the team, and then get them revved up for the conference schedule,” Senior Associate Athletics Director Ken Grosse said. “We want [students] to know that we have two teams that are both headed in a great direction.”

The leading scorer of one of those teams, junior guard Leora Juster, hopes that the promotion done at Triton Jam will boost attendance at future games so that fans can see that the women’s squad is a “high energy, fast-paced team that has had the best NCAA Division-II start in school history.”

The Tritons have a place in the record books with their 10-2 overall record, including a 5-1 mark in conference action. This record year has also seen the team post a 79-77 upset over No. 12 ranked Chico State on Jan. 7. Currently in the middle of a six-game winning streak, the Tritons, who recently received the No. 1 ranking in the NCAA Division-II West Regional, have the third-highest scoring offense in the league, averaging 75.5 points per game.

Despite losing three of it’s starters since last year, the women’s team hasn’t missed a beat and will look to use the home-crowd energy to continue its push to the playoffs.

The home reception will probably prove even more energizing to the men’s basketball unit. After starting out the season with 12- straight road games, including four against tough competiton in Division-I opponents, UCSD finally returned home on Jan. 3, avenging an earlier loss to Grand Canyon University 94-91 in overtime and then notching its first CCAA win with a 20-point victory over Chico State, thanks to its league-leading 65.1 points per game scoring defense.

Senior guard Odioh Odiye, one of only six returning players, was not suprised to see the same impressive turnout at Triton Jam that he did last year.

“There are a lot of people that want to see us play,” he said. “We play hard. We are an exciting and fun team to watch, and we’re competitive.”

Triton Jam provided fans with the chance to see, hear from and meet some of the top Triton athletes.

“We want people to know the team on a more personal basis, get to know who they are,” Grosse said. “And if people see [the players] on campus, they know who they’re coming to see.”

Triton Jam was the first event leading to Spirit Week, where the UCSD athletics department will try to continue their promotional efforts by giving away free spirit towels to the first 500 attendees of the Jan. 20 basketball doubleheader versus the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros.

“I’d love it if the students can come out and have a good time, and if that’s associated with athletics, that makes it even better,” Grosse said.