Gonzaga-North Carolina Game Creates Buzz On Spokane Campus
Winter semester finals ended a week ago and all but a handful of Gonzaga University students vacated the Spokane campus for the holiday break.
Yet there is an undeniable energy among those remaining, thanks to the once-in-an-era men's basketball matchup on campus between Gonzaga University and the University of North Carolina.
Most of those attending the game are upper-class students, as the campus dorms are closed for the semester break. Those who had housing options available spent the last week staying connected with each other, minus the normal stresses of student life.
Senior Valerie Fetzer and her roommates live off campus, so they stayed in Spokane to attend the Dec. 18 game. They've used the week-long hiatus to unwind from rigors of academic loads right before heading home to family for the holidays.
There was some sense of (crazy) normalcy. The Kennel Club followed its time-honored tradition of Tweeting out the location for students to line up in hopes of landing a front-row spot in the student section. Many of them started lining up outside the McCarthey Athletic Center several hours before the game.
In appreciation of the students, Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh put together a free breakfast for students and visiting family members. The casual event was well-attended and McCulloh connected with the students in a personal way that defines his presidential style, even posing for selfies.
Just across the street, the Boone Avenue Retail Center (BARC) was another hub of activity. It includes the main parking garage utilized for home games (it was mostly full by mid-day) and the Zag Shop on the street level. The retail crowd was strong for those buying branded items before the game.
Zag Nation is converging from far and wide for the event. A staff member who is attending the game landed mid-day in Spokane from a business trip in California said his connecting flight from Portland was full of Zag alumni and friends. "You can feel the energy on campus is different," he said.
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