AU hosts “Rally in the Alley” tailgate

Students and alumni come out to support community before men’s basketball game

AU hosts “Rally in the Alley” tailgate

The AU Blue Crew welcomes the men’s basketball team into Bender Arena during the Rally in the Ally on Jan. 18.

AU held its first-ever "Rally in the Alley" on Saturday, a tailgate created by the AU Blue Crew to bolster school spirit at the University. Despite the grim weather conditions, dozens of students and alumni showed up before the basketball team’s 4 p.m. game against Holy Cross.

While the rally may not have mirrored the traditional tailgate of some nearby state schools, it did manage to draw a sizable crowd leading up to the athletes' arrival. Saturday’s game drew a crowd of 984 people, featuring a noticeably larger student section than at previous games.

“We’re glad to see them out there,” said senior point guard Sa’eed Nelson. “They got us pumped up. We hope they continue to come to the games, and we’ll keep delivering them wins.”

From 1 to 3 p.m., the tailgate featured a live DJ, raffles, food, drinks and several tailgating games for students and alumni to enjoy before the game. Several members of Greek life on campus, as well as the Residence Hall Association, tabled at the event to engage with students during the festivities.

Harper Leigh, a sophomore at AU and member of the Blue Crew, said she was thrilled to hear all the positive feedback from AU students and athletes.

“I’m excited about what the rally represents for building a community at AU,” Leigh said. “We planted the seed – we are getting people familiar with the idea of having everyone come together. This is just the beginning.”

Leigh says she first presented the idea to the athletic office back in August, who initially opposed the feasibility of the plan. After several weeks, however, the department reached out saying that they had corporate sponsors like Booeymonger and Wawa, who were interested in putting on the event. 

In addition to the Blue Crew, the AU Facilities and Management team, as well as AU Vice President of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence Fanta Aw, were both instrumental in the organization of the event.

Leigh said that her experience growing up in Texas inspired her to pitch the rally to the athletic department. When Leigh got to AU, she and her friends noticed that there was a lack of community among the students, with little in the way of initiatives to boost this outside of the club fair. Leigh said it seemed detrimental to student morale at the University. 

“Where I’m from, sporting events and Greek life are huge components to happiness,” said Leigh. “These are incubators for the community. They help bring people together. I thought we needed to replicate this … to make sure there is something on campus, consistently, that allows students to come together and have fun.”

While no future tailgates have been officially scheduled, Leigh said the goal of the initiative is to turn the rally into a consistent event, which would happen as frequently as every three weeks. 

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