FORT MYERS, Fla. – FGCU basketball home openers are just over two weeks away and Alico Arena will host its annual premier basketball kickoff event, Hoops and Halloween, on Friday, Oct. 29 as part of the Eagle Family Weekend.
The 7:30 PM event will follow E’Gouls Volleyball, a partner Halloween event featuring a rivalry volleyball versus ASUN East Division foe North Florida which starts at 6 PM.
Hoops and Halloween showcases the men’s and women’s basketball season. The marquee event, which is presented by Coconut Point Ford, features the first opportunity for the general public and University community to see and meet the 2021-22 men’s and women’s basketball coaches and student-athletes. The event has something for everyone – trick-or-treating and costume contests for children, new swag for students where Dirty Bird members may pick up their official basketball season fan shirt for the first time, and one lucky FGCU student will also have the chance to win the Dunk City Mustang by making a timed series of shots, presented by Coconut Point Ford.
All in attendance will see the women’s team scrimmage, a three-point contest featuring both teams, an Around-the-World contest, and a dunk contest as the finale. Hoops and Halloween participating children 12-and-under are encouraged to dress in their best Halloween costume. Kids will be able to trick-or-treat starting at 7:30 PM; take pictures with cheerleaders, Dancing E’Gals and Azul the Eagle, the official Eagle mascot; win prizes for best dressed; and participate in a costume parade around Alico Arena to music performed by the FGCU pep band.
“Every year we look forward to Hoops and Halloween! It’s a great way for our community, fans, and students to meet our team prior to the first week of play and we are especially thrilled to be back together with our fans this year,” said head women’s basketball coach Karl Smesko. “Our student-athletes have so much fun interacting with our fans and the young kids in costumes at this event. A Friday night family-friendly event with our loyal fans and Dirty Birds out supporting us is a great way to start Halloween weekend and the kick off our season. And we all know the men’s Dunk Contest is a fan favorite and our players are judging the dunks this year.”
For individuals who have yet to purchase season tickets, available seats will be marked and on sale at the event, as well as the opportunity to join the Eagles Club and secure other membership benefits like preferred parking and access to VIP events.
At 8 PM, the costume prize winners are announced and the evening with high energy music will introduce the women’s and men’s teams.
“We look forward to this event every year,” said FGCU head men’s basketball coach Michael Fly. “We are ready to start the season and look forward to seeing our fans out to meet our new players for the first time. It’s a relaxed and fun event for families and fans of all ages.”
THE HISTORY BEHIND THE MADNESS
FGCU began hosting Hoops and Halloween in 2012, a Sunday matinee basketball event. After its run to the Sweet 16, the University began hosting an evening basketball kickoff event, Dunk City After Dark, prior to the 2013-14 season. This year FGCU returns to its roots with calling the event Hoops and Halloween. The Midnight Madness tradition was founded in 1971 by then-Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, who started the tradition with a team workout at 12:03 AM on Friday, Oct. 15 – which was then the first official day teams could commence practice for the season. Since then, the midnight start has morphed into a pep rally earlier in the day rather than an actual practice, including an emcee, music, dancing, competitions and giveaways for fans in attendance.