Rutgers athletics holds open football practice for Student Appreciation Day


studentappreciationdaydimitri
Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

Students were awarded free t-shirts and raffle tickets for taking part in Student Appreciation Day on Saturday in the Rutgers Indoor Practice and Conditioning Facility on Busch Campus. Attendees interacted with players, watched practice and took part in interactive drills.


In celebration of the Rutgers student body, Rutgers Athletics hosted the second annual "Student Appreciation Day" this weekend at the Rutgers Indoor Practice and Conditioning Facility, known as the Bubble, on Busch campus. 

On Saturday, April 8, all students were invited to come out and participate in an open football practice with the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers Athletics Assistant Director of Marketing and Promotions Mike Greengarten, described the events of the day.

“Student Appreciation Day is a free, student-only open practice with the players and coaches of the Rutgers football team,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for Rutgers students to get involved and interact with the players and the coaches that they normally don’t have access or exposure to. Throughout the day, the student body (had) the option to partake in stretching and drills alongside the football team.”

At the Bubble, Rutgers students had the unique opportunity to interact with the team’s players and coaches while they trained. Greengarten said that through the activities during "Student Appreciation Day," the student body was not only able to see the hard work and dedication that goes into each practice, but were able to experience it first-hand while simultaneously bonding with the players.

“We want to give Rutgers students an outlet where Rutgers Athletics can show our gratitude for their support," Greengarten said. “Students (were) able to train next to the players to get a sense of the student-athlete experience for themselves. It’s also an incredibly fun and memorable day.”

The day dedicated to the University student community boasted a variety of interactive drills, in which Rutgers students were able to win small prizes and souvenirs for their participation. 

According to event flyers, attendees were invited to enter a raffle for a chance to win prizes such as Nike gear or 2017 student season tickets.

Along with the prizes available at the open practice, Greengarten said that each student received "The Hunt" football t-shirts that have the Riot Squad logo on the back.

“The student body is all one Riot Squad,” he said. “This event would not be possible without the Riot Squad. Every game or event that a student comes out to makes them a part of the Riot Squad.”

On top of the playful games, the student body had the option to sign up to race in a 40-yard dash competition throughout the day. Greengarten said the five fastest runners from each race were given the chance to compete again on the field at High Point Solutions Stadium during halftime of the spring game.

To commemorate the event, he said Rutgers Athletics set up a photo booth equipped with football props, where students took pictures in Rutgers players’ helmets and gear. The Marching Scarlet Knights were in attendance at the open practice returning for their second year, eager to provide the student body with live music and entertainment.

Rutgers Athletics said they were preparing for increased turnout for the second year of "Student Appreciation Day," after seeing an impressive showing of approximately 250-300 students last spring. For the first event of its kind, it was very successful.

More than 250 students came out for the event. 

Greengarten partnered with fellow Rutgers Athletics staffers to make "Student Appreciation Day" possible, including Assistant Athletic Director, Creative Services and Fan Experience Rob Roselli, Director of Football Operations Will Gilkison, and Assistant Director of Facilities, Events and Operations Dan Ryan. He said the group of directors took notes from last year’s operation and began to plan this year’s "Student Appreciation Day" around Easter of 2016.

Greengarten said Rutgers Athletics emphasizes the great amount of time and effort they put into the planning and execution of "Student Appreciation Day" in order to show their support for the student body.

“It’s important for students to make personal connections with the players and staff of the football team,” he said. “There’s not a lot of opportunities for the rest of the student body to have their moment in the spotlight. In a sense, the day is a huge thank you to the Rutgers student body for their unwavering support of the team throughout the football season. It's our expression of gratitude to the students for coming out to the games 10,000 strong, for making a lot of noise, and for supporting our student-athletes on and off the field.”

Danielle Roth, a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences, said that she was not aware of "Student Appreciation Day" until recently. She looked forward to seeing what exactly Rutgers Athletics had to offer at this year’s practice.

“I think it's awesome that Rutgers is celebrating Student Appreciation Day,” Roth said. “I don’t think I’ve heard of anything like this taking place at Rutgers before. I don’t know much about the mechanics of football, but practicing with the football team sounds like a blast.”


Daniel Israel is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. 


Daniel Israel

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