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By Melissa McCutchan
CIU Student Writer
Thursday, Oct. 24, was a night of introductions at Columbia International University. Students, faculty, and staff crowded into Moore Fitness Center for “Ram Jam,” a fun-filled introduction of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, along with the debut of CIU’s mascot.
“[Ram Jam] is an opportunity to introduce the team to the student body,” women’s head coach Tammy Holder said. “It’s our chance to show appreciation to the fans and encourage spirit throughout the season.”
Fans were on their feet cheering as the teams introduced their players and coaching staff. Finally, the athletics department debuted their new mascot—an energetic ram, who spent most of the evening getting the fans on their feet.
The men’s team also scrimmaged Orangeburg-Calhoun Prep Academy in a close and hard-fought game. With 24 seconds on the clock, the Rams tied the scrimmage, 75-75. Tensions were high as the seconds ticked away, until Orangeburg-Calhoun sank a three-point shot that ended the game.
Despite a tough loss, fans and players alike were in high spirits.
“I was really surprised by the student section,” men’s guard and freshman Alex Fant said. “They were just standing and cheering the whole time.”
The athletics department held a drawing for T-shirts, gift cards, and the grand prize: a shofar bought during the last CIU Israel study tour. The shofar is a ram’s horn used in Israel as a signaling trumpet and is blown at CIU athletic events.
Students and players alike were in high spirits after the scrimmage, and are eagerly awaiting the start of the official season.
“The fans definitely got our guys pumped tonight,” Coach Holder said. “I believe we’ll definitely have a home court advantage because of our great fans.”
The Rams played the scrimmage without Head Coach Kyle Mendenhall who was rather busy elsewhere. His wife Grace was in labor. The Mendenhalls welcomed their first child, a boy named Hezekiah later that evening.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams will have their first official games on Nov. 2 as they take on Johnson University, and are looking forward to a strong foundational season.
“We’ve been working hard,” women’s guard and freshman KaRa Thompson said. “We want to make sure we set the standard high for the basketball program in the future.”