Blue Demon Week Celebrated at McGrath-Phillips Arena
Feb. 21, 2014
CHICAGO – As the inaugural Blue Demon Week approaches its crescendo with Saturday’s men’s basketball game against rival Marquette and women’s game against Butler, the campus-wide event was celebrated on Thursday evening with the Blue Demon Bash at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
The festive gathering of the DePaul community followed up a dodge ball tournament, Throwback Trivia Night, a T-shirt swap, movie night, the DePaul at Xavier game watch and other activities earlier in the week.
The week-long celebration expands on the concept of Blue Demon Day that was established by the university’s Affinity Task Force and Alumni Relations last year. Blue Demon Day takes place again on Saturday with DePaul alumni getting together either at the men’s and women’s basketball games or for viewing parties across the nation.
A number of groups and organizations university-wide pooled their resources and ideas to create this new affinity-building initiative.
On Thursday, Blue Demon student-athletes, coaches, staff, DePaul students, the Blue Crew, the Screamin’ Demon pep band, spirit squad, DIBS the mascot and others added to the building momentum of Blue Demon Week.
“It’s fantastic how all the various people from across the university have come together this week,” said Taylor Hynes of the women’s track and field team. “We’re competing in the BIG EAST Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend and this makes me want to do well in every event.
“It’s one thing to have your teammates backing you, and now we have students from all over the university coming out to support you. It’s a great example of school pride.”
In the forefront of Blue Demon Week are the Student Government Association (SGA) and the DePaul Activities Board (DAB).
“For the last two years, it’s been a goal to increase campus affinity,” said SGA president Casey Clemmons whose 2012 election campaign work earned him an invitation to President Barack Obama’s 2013 Presidential Inauguration that he attended. “In the past, this kind of event was called homecoming. I really wanted to change the name to make this resonate with the DePaul students, faculty, staff and alumni.
“To a lot of students, homecoming is still associated with high school and the big high school football game. We wanted to create a new DePaul tradition that the university community and especially the students could relate to and get behind.
“That’s why we came up with the name Blue Demon Week. There were around 25 different groups from across the university that became a part of this including SGA, DePaul Athletics, our faculty, Advancement, Alumni Relations, the Office of Student Involvement, facilities, Blue Crew and the DePaul Activities Board.
“This first year of Blue Demon Week, a lot of people wanted to be a part of it. There were all kinds of announcements, campus imagery, banners and posters. Our university president Father Dennis H. Holtschneider sent out an e-mail encouraging everyone to get involved.”
Blue Demon sophomore point guard Chanise Jenkins was certainly encouraged by the Blue Demon Bash.
“Blue Demon Week is such a great idea,” Jenkins said. “It brings out school spirit and brings us together as a university. It is pride not only for student-athletes, but also taking pride in being a member of the DePaul community.
“Look around, and you can see people of all ages here---students, alumni, staff, friends. It’s great to have so many people supporting you. Seeing all this makes you want to perform better.”
The sentiment on the men’s basketball team was much the same.
“It’s inspiring the way Blue Demon Week is bringing people from all over the campus together like this,” said senior guard Edwind McGhee who is president of the Captains’ Council. “We’ve all been in school for a while now and it’s nice to have a little break. This is a great way to get people involved and encourage them to come out to our games on Saturday.
“It’s really nice to have so much support, and it shows our campus affinity. Going against Marquette on Saturday, it’s a really big game for us. It’s definitely great to have the backing of our fans, and it makes us play a little harder. That’s going to happen for the women’s game, too.”
Adding a fresh perspective along with their youthful optimism and energy were students such as sophomore Emma Kolander of the DePaul Activities Board.
“We completely revamped homecoming week,” said Kolander the Blue Demon Week Coordinator who has a double major in Public Relations and Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse. “This is all about building campus affinity and school spirit and getting DePaul students invested in becoming a Blue Demon fan. We want to build Blue Demon pride.
“As a fellow student, I have a pretty good idea what gets students going. I try to come up with ideas that I think students will get excited about. We want students to get pumped up and attend the basketball games this weekend.”
Clemmons, a senior majoring in Political Science, has one big goal in mind for this initiative.
“My goal is that I’d like to come back to DePaul 10 years from now and see Blue Demon Week still in existence---only about 100 times bigger and better,” Clemmons said. “I’d like it to become a big DePaul tradition with the alumni really engaged in it.”
The goal for the short term is big wins over Marquette at 1 p.m. at Allstate Arena and Butler at 7 p.m. at McGrath-Phillips Arena on Saturday.
“We love our fans, and when they show up and start roaring for us---it means so much to us,” Jenkins said. “Come on out on Saturday---and bring a friend.”
McGhee seconded the notion.
“Make sure to come out and see the men’s and women’s games on Saturday,” he said. “There is nothing like college basketball.”