UTA Athletics hosted a virtual pep rally Wednesday ahead of the men’s and women’s basketball season openers next week.
Eric Trimborn, assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions, said the department weighed the option to host a hybrid event with in-person spectators but opted to host the pep rally on Microsoft Teams instead.
“Due to budgetary things [and] costs of that nature, we were never able to fully execute that plan,” Trimborn said. “Then it turned into, ‘OK, how do we make this completely virtual?’”
Athletic director Jim Baker and head coaches Shereka Wright and Chris Ogden addressed those in attendance. Baker said he is excited to have fans at College Park Center when both teams take the court next Wednesday.
Earlier this month, UTA Athletics announced plans to allow around 500 fans into the arena for all men’s and women’s basketball games this year. The department is still working with Sun Belt Conference officials to ensure all COVID-19 policies are being implemented.
Wright said the Lady Mavericks are ready to compete as she prepares for her first season leading the program. She was hired as the program’s 10th head coach in September.
“I have been so pleased [with] where our kids are right now,” Wright said. “We’re continuing to head in the right direction, but we’re just ready to play somebody else other than ourselves.”
Ogden said scheduling games this year has been different because of the pandemic, comparing it to picking up weekly games in middle school or in Amateur Athletic Union basketball.
“[I’m] certainly excited, excited for our players to play in a game like this on national TV,” Ogden said of his team’s season opener. “Excited to show off our arena and excited for our fans and season ticketholders.”
The women’s basketball team will start its season against Texas A&M University-Commerce at 11 a.m. next Wednesday at College Park Center, while the men’s team will tip off at 3 p.m. against Oklahoma State University.