Student Alumni Association shows off university pride for over 24 hours
Exhausted, yet restless at the same time, a member of the Student Alumni Association (SAA) holds a cup of coffee in her hand, laughing out loud. Her bold smile widens, taking up half of her face. The other students can’t tell if she’s tired or not. Her mood, full of excitement and energy, has not changed for a long period of time.
“Pirate Pride is what I run off of,” Victoria Blakey-Padilla, a senior chemistry and classical studies major, said.
Blakey-Padilla is not the only one in this state of mind, as about 30 other SAA members reflect the same attitude, getting other students excited for the men’s basketball game against Xavier University.
On Feb. 19 and 20 in the Main Lounge, SAA focused on nothing but promoting “Pirate Pride” at its 10th annual Bounce ‘N Trounce event—for 24 hours straight.
SAA: Who are they?
They’re often seen on campus throughout the year, raising funds for the True Blue campaign and spreading Pirate Pride throughout the community.
Founded in 2005, SAA works closely with the alumni relations office. According to its website, the association “seeks to better the University community by fostering relationships between current students and graduates, fostering school spirit and educating undergraduate students about the benefits of a life-long relationship with Seton Hall University.”
“We are the bridge between undergraduates and alumni,” Matthew Minor, a junior diplomacy major and the president of SAA, said. “We really want students to feel engaged in the university so that when they graduate, they don’t leave forever. We want them to stay involved.”
To accomplish this, Minor said the organization hosts several fundraising and school spirit events like Bounce ‘N Trounce and “Talk Like a Pirate Day” to get students involved.
“I think so much of what we do goes back to citizenship,” he said. “Because you are a member of this community, it is almost part of our duty to give back.”
However, some students have said that they feel there is no value in seeking a lifelong relationship with the university, as some wish to attend the university, graduate with his or her degree, and never return.
“I understand that not all students feel this way,” Minor said. “But SAA’s mission is to get students to feel invested and engaged in the community and to get them to create a culture of philanthropy where they give back not just through their time, but their financial resources as well—which is why we have a lot of fundraisers for scholarships, too.”
Along with programming on campus throughout the year, Minor said what sets SAA apart from other organizations is the amount of “external-facing” events it does off campus with alumni and donors. The events give SAA members a chance to network with donors, some of whom have become mentors to members.
The Pirate Pride party begins
At 6 p.m., the lights in the Main Lounge dim. School spirit and enthusiasm for the men’s basketball game began as the Seton Hall Cheerleaders and the Sapphires take part in a pep rally to hype students up for the game.
David Farrelly, a junior management major known for his DJ business “Enerxy,” started to blast music from the stage. As the music filled the room, students swarmed in for free food donated by Tito’s Burritos and Wings in South Orange. The SAA members, all pumped up and ready to kick off the event, exert excited energy to each student who enters.
Then, the thumping of the basketballs began, as SAA attempted to have at least one basketball dribbling during every second of the event to reach its goal of over 200,000 bounces. Last year, the organization managed to bounce the ball over 232,000 times. With open eyes and a big smile, Minor said he hopes this year will have even more bounces.
Standing in the closed-off circle where SAA members count the number of bounces, Wilnir Louis, a sophomore sports management and marketing major, dribbled the ball around and continuously said, “We will bounce, and we will trounce.”
For Louis, Bounce ‘N Trounce is like a homecoming for a football game even though Seton Hall does not have a football team. He hopes that his peers feel the same way in trying to promote school spirit. “In the end, we’re all trying to graduate from Seton Hall,” he said. “We’re all trying to become alumni.”
Bouncing the ball is a dedication to the men’s basketball team, Louis said. “For us, to have Bounce ‘N Trounce is another way to commend them [the men’s basketball team] for their hard work and dedication for playing basketball for Seton Hall.”
From the beginning of the event to the end, SAA hosted a different activity every hour. Students were able to participate in trivia and bingo games, a few crafts and weaving plastic bags to create sleeping mats, bags and blankets for the homeless. Performances were made by the Seton Hall Dance Team, the Gentlemen of the Hall and Pretty Sharp.
Louis said, “I think I would do it [Bounce ‘N Trounce] for 24 hours—if I had some coffee and some energy drinks.”
Snow didn’t stop them the next day
Around 11 a.m. on Feb. 20, Seton Hall issued a Pirate Alert announcing that all afternoon and evening classes were canceled—but that did not stop SAA from their 24-hour commitment, as they continued to host events that day.
Instead of heading home, students headed over to Bounce ‘N Trounce to continue bouncing the ball and spending time with their friends.
With bags under their eyes, the SAA members ran around tired, but at the same time, full of energy. Some of them took a short nap, but returned to the event right away. Blakey-Padilla, who only took a one-hour nap, was on her fifth cup of coffee by 2:30 p.m. and did not have any regrets sacrificing sleep. “I’m just a little bit tired, but that’s okay,” she said.
When asked if her energy has ever died down since the beginning of the event, she said, with a proud look, “Absolutely not.”
In the end, SAA reached its bounce goal as the basketball bounced more than 206,000 times, finishing it off at the Prudential Center alongside the court. Blakey-Padilla said, without a doubt, that she “would do this all again tomorrow in a heartbeat.”
Liam Oakes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @lm_oakes.