By Suki Rowden, Staff Writer
Senior night is the last home game of the regular season and is used to recognize and celebrate the graduating team members for their dedication and hard work to the team.
This senior night celebrated nearly 30 Bearcats including football players, cheerleaders, band players, and color guard members on Nov. 14. Many seniors pointed to the greatest moment of the night being when they walked with their families down the tunnel, despite the freezing weather. The tunnel is a walkway created by all of the team members, faculty, and people that make the game happen. The graduating seniors walk through a line of their peers and friends escorted by their family as the crowd cheers for them.
The football players have experienced their fair share of ups and downs but are glad to end their senior year on a win. Despite the inclement weather, the team was in good spirits as they held a healthy lead for the entirety of the game up until the final score of 36-7.
“I am happy with the team’s performance,” Kevin Childress, linebacker on the football team and a senior marketing major, said. “Ultimately, ending my college career on a win was perfect.
Austin Nicely, offensive lineman and a senior communications major, described why this win meant so much to him. “Earlier in the year, I sprained my ankle, and they told me my senior year was over. But I was able to rehab and was able to play in my last game as a Bearcat.”
This struggle allowed him to appreciate his new favorite moment with the team. “After the Bethany win, spending one last time on the field with the five guys who I have grown close with over these four years [after] playing together [is my favorite moment].”
Not only did the football players display impressive sportsmanship, but Rachel McGough, a cheerleader and senior psychology major, described the tough environment they performed in.
“We had the odds against us for our halftime performance with the rain and the muddy field, but I have never felt prouder walking off of that field,” McGough said. “We hit every stunt clean with no mistakes. We rose above and did our absolute best.”
The players and performers ability to rise above and push through is a common trait that all team members seem to share regardless of whether they are on the football team, cheerleading squad, or the marching band. Many say being on a team prepared them for their future success.
“I think that being a part of this team has given me the confidence to get up and do my best in all aspects of my career,” McGough said. “I’ve grown my sportsmanship skills so much, which will help me tremendously when I become a pediatric counselor where compassion is key. No matter your experience level, if you put your heart and mind into it, you will be able to accomplish anything. I stared off not knowing what I was doing, but with the support of my teammates and coach I was able to learn so much. My team has been so supportive, I cannot express how blessed I am to have been a part of this team.”
Childress describes a similar sentiment. “I feel like a football program prepared me for the harshness of the real world and how you must work hard to be successful […] The experience of us going to a bowl game (last year) is something I have always wanted to have the opportunity to be a part of. Even with the loss, it taught me that I should never settle and must work harder to achieve my personal goals.”
Nicole Abrams, senior nursing student and captain of the color guard team, drew similarities between her high school senior night and her college senior night, making her last one that much more special.
“My high school senior night, it poured down rain, [so] it was pretty funny that on my college senior night it would be pouring as well. I think not being stressed about doing the show perfectly because of the weather [made] the performance more enjoyable,” she said.
To some, the senior night became much more than just a celebration of the seniors and sportsmanship. To #5 Desonio Powell, senior communications major and defensive lineman, this night became his engagement celebration after their win against Bethany. With Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” playing over the field, Powell’s fellow teammates made him presentable while waiting for his girlfriend to arrive. Powell got down on one knee and the touching moment was surrounded by the couple’s family and friends as the football team showered the girlfriend with flowers. Finally, the entire team erupted in cheers as his now-fiancée accepted his proposal.
The class of 2023 went out in style with a skillfully played game, a show of perseverance through the freezing weather, and with a sweet proposal as the cherry on top for the night.