ARLINGTON, Texas – The atmosphere was electric at College Park Center on Thursday as the Lady Mavericks celebrated the annual Kid’s Day event when it hosted Little Rock.
It was a record-breaking attendance in Lady Maverick history with the largest crowd in a women’s basketball stand alone game (many Lady Mav games are doubleheaders with men) since moving into College Park Center in 2012. The 5,011 was also the fifth largest crowd for a UTA sporting event.
“We were thrilled that so many area kids and teachers had the opportunity to visit our campus, experience College Park Center and see two very good women’s basketball teams compete,” said UTA Director of Athletics Jim Baker. “It was an incredible experience to watch so many kids having fun, supporting the Lady Mavericks and getting a firsthand look at some great role models on the basketball court. It was the first time for many of the kids to step foot on a college campus or even attend a sporting event. Hopefully the experience served as an inspiration for what is possible in their future.”
The seats were filled by 36 different schools that were a part of three ISD’s in the DFW area. Included were students from Arlington, Mansfield and the Dallas ISD. After all was said and done, 4,145 kids made their way into CPC during the morning tipoff with 2,400 lunches handed out by a conglomerate of hard-working staff.
“It was a great environment and a lot of fun,” UTA women’s coach Krista Gerlich said after the game. “I’m glad we got to experience that. I want to thank our department and everyone who worked so hard for that. You don’t just get thousands of kids in the seats without a lot of hard work. Especially, feeding them boxed lunches, stuffing goody bags and how hard everyone worked for that – I really appreciate the effort they put into (promoting) our team.”
As students arrived off the nearly 100 school buses, they were greeted by members of UTA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, comprised of athletes from UTA’s 15 Intercollegiate sport programs, with lunches, a custom Kid’s Day program that featured the ins and outs of the sport, a Go Mavs Go poster and a bookmark to commemorate the day. They were also entertained by costumed superheroes and Blaze, UTA’s mascot.
The Lady Mavericks used the energy from the cheering fans to produce an effort worthy of the crowd against the Sun Belt’s top team in Little Rock. UTA led for much of the contest, but fell late in a close battle of the league’s top teams.
“Our staff did an excellent job to provide everyone in attendance, as well as the competing teams, a positive experience,” Baker said. “It takes a great deal of advance preparation, attention to details and cooperation between departments to execute an event like this. They deserve a lot of credit for a successful event.”
For the ladies on the court, Thursday was an opportunity to show off their talents and create an inspiring performance. UTA junior guard Crystal Allen saw it as a moment in which she could be a role model for those in attendance.
“I feel like it is important because when I was young, there were a lot of times when I didn’t have the opportunity to go to basketball games,” Allen said. “I think it is great they had the opportunity to come to the game and see that. It is good for us to be that role model so they have someone to look up to.”
The Lady Mavericks continue their charge to position themselves at the top of the Sun Belt on Saturday when they host Arkansas State at 2 p.m. as part of a women’s and men’s doubleheader sponsored by LBL Architects.