Party Part 2 in Storrs
Cody Milardo is a senior at UConn and has been on the men's and women's track beat for the past two years for the student newspaper, The Daily Campus.
STORRS, Conn. -- Less than 24 hours after celebrating a men’s basketball national championship, Storrs was ready to party once again after the UConn women’s basketball team defeated Notre Dame 79-58 for the national title in a battle of undefeated powerhouses.
An estimated 5,000 students packed Gampel Pavilion, the on-campus basketball arena here in Storrs, to welcome the men’s team back from Texas, before sticking around to watch the women take on the Fighting Irish. The game was shown on three big-screen projectors on the floor of the arena, and the electricity and energy in the arena was intense.
“The atmosphere inside Gampel was amazing the past two nights,” sophomore Julia Dumaine said. “It’s just such an amazing experience; winning the men’s championship last night, and now the women’s tonight. We all have so much pride in our school, it’s one of the best in the country.”
Before the game even started, chants of “I believe that we will win!” and “Let’s go Huskies!” echoed through Gampel, and students ran in to grab the best of the remaining seats before tipoff.
Although some would call us spoiled with success here at UConn, winning a national championship just gets sweeter every time. All those in attendance stood on their feet for the duration of the game, filling the arena with cheers every time a Husky put the ball through the net.
The energy did not dissipate during halftime either.
An impromptu dance competition broke out on the floor of Gampel during intermission. Half of the students from the stands filed onto the floor and formed circles around the dancers. As more students joined the dance-off, the music got louder and as the music got louder, those watching in the stands fed off the energy, cheering on their fellow student dancers.
“That was really awesome to be a part of,” said freshman Ashley Pelletti, who was part of the scrum. “I think all of us are so happy because we have had so much to celebrate about at UConn in the past few weeks. A lot of times people get tired from sitting and waiting around at halftime, but we just kept the excitement about our team going strong all night long.”
The students on the floor made their way back to their seats once the second half commenced, but the electric atmosphere was still there. Every time the Huskies made a run to stretch their lead, someone in the stands would lead a rousing “U-C-O-N-N, UConn, UConn, UConn!” chant.
With two minutes to go and a comfortable double-digit lead, reality began to set in. Students rushed the floor with time still remaining on the clock knowing a championship was within their grasp. Perhaps the loudest ovation of the night, excluding when the buzzer sounded, was when head coach Geno Auriemma took out each of his seniors individually. The crowd erupted when Auriemma took out Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson, who has been a fan-favorite for all four years of her time in Storrs.
“This really is something special,” senior Merry Nguyen said. “We came in as freshmen with these girls, and now to head out as seniors with a national championship is just incredible.”
The bedlam spilled out onto the nearby streets of Gampel afterward, where there was a DJ and light show. Unlike the halftime dance party, this one was planned. Students packed the main road through campus, Fairfield Way, while some climbed trees and shouted “UConn!” before others responded with “Huskies!”
The celebration ensued for well over an hour, and campus is buzzing about a dual championship parade later this week.
“I couldn’t be more proud to be a Husky,” Nguyen said.
I’m sure the majority of students here feel the same way.