4000 elementary students energize women’s basketball, Wintrust arena


It was all about the children during a DePaul women’s basketball 88-47 matinee win against the Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers at Wintrust Arena today.

The DePaul Blue Demons welcomed 4,000 enthusiastic school children from over 30 local elementary schools to the friendly confines of Wintrust Arena in Chicago’s South Loop for the Wintrust Field Trip Day game. The youngsters packed into the 100-section of the arena, screaming, clapping, and dancing their way through four quarters of dominating Blue Demon basketball.

DePaul moved up the start time of the game to 11 a.m. so that students could stay the entire game and get back to their schools in time to catch their buses home.

In all, 5,152 fans attended the game which bested the Blue Demon men’s attendance of 4,732 fans for their basketball game last Saturday against Youngstown State University. It was the best attended game of the season for the women by a large margin and the children provided a lively atmosphere that helped power the Blue Demon’s to their sixth win of the season.

“The energy they brought, we kind of fed off of their energy,” DePaul’s senior guard Amarah Coleman said after the game. “It’s just a fun time playing in front of the kids and showing they can be this (a college basketball player) when they grow up.”

DePaul Athletics partnered with Wintrust to provide free tickets and a snazzy Blue Demon short sleeve T-shirt to every child in attendance. Over 100 school buses made the journey to the South Loop to get the students to Wintrust Arena, with DePaul Athletics and Wintrust sponsoring 60 of those buses. The new arena was a big hit among the young fans.

“I think it’s cool,” said nine-year-old Zayrion who attends Higgins Academy in Chicago. “I like how they play different songs. They used to play just the regular songs (at McGrath-Phillips Arena). At school we like do work and here we can have fun and watch the game.”

Laura S. Ward Elementary School in Humboldt Park was the best represented school, sending 500 students to the game. John Whistler Elementary in West Pullman sent 275 students while James Madison Elementary in South Shore sent 250 kids.

A full-participatory national anthem saw the crowd attempting (and failing) to synchronize the lyrics of the patriotic song. Participation was the buzz word of the day, as other features of the afternoon included a dance-off at halftime, FanCam fun on the Jumbotron at almost every break, and an autograph signing session with the players after the game.

Kids loving the flex cam, the TO entertainment overall is top notch at Wintrust #BlueDemons pic.twitter.com/KLWbbpnr0V

— Paul Steeno (@KingSteeno) December 4, 2017

The Blue Demon women continue a grueling slate of non-conference games with a Friday date against No. 1 ranked the University of Connecticut at Wintrust Arena. It’s unlikely that there will be 4,000 elementary school kids at that game.