Thursday, May 23, 2024

Cager assistant promoting game

November 3, 2000
Trena Anderson, women’s basketball assistant to the head coach, stands on the court of the Breslin Student Events Center on Wednesday. Anderson’s main goals this season are to raise awareness about women’s basketball and to fill the arena.

Ten people wearing sweaty Spartan basketball jerseys run up and down the court, fighting for loose balls and reaching to block passes.

It looks like an MSU basketball game.

But no one is there to watch; it’s not Charlie Bell and Marcus Taylor, but senior forward Becky Cummings and the MSU women’s basketball team.

Despite the fact that last year’s attendance hovered around 900 fans in the 15,000-plus seat Breslin Student Events Center, Trena Anderson, the new assistant to head coach Joanne P. McCallie, has different expectations for this year.

And with the help of a new student fan section called Coach P’s Pack Attack, Anderson’s new position and the team’s massive community involvement, filling even the lower bowl of Breslin isn’t an impossible goal, she said.

“We look at a school like Wisconsin, who’s never won a championship, never been in a big tournament, and they generate 12,000 people,” she said. “It’s just a team effort there. We’re going to use every resource and that’s what makes a big difference.”

In the new position, Anderson has the flexibility to tailor and refine her job. Her focus, on marketing and gaining fan support, has her scrambling to set up speaking engagements for McCallie and her players.

Anderson said each player has been assigned to local elementary schools to meet with students and raise awareness about women in sports.

It seems to be working.

After a recent McCallie speech, ticket sales rose 50 percent, Anderson said.

“Coach P. is a great speaker,” she said. “Not a lot of the men’s players have the time to sit down and talk to people like that. They’re too high profile. People seem to really appreciate this.”

Although the university has a department for sports marketing, Anderson said her job is more personal and specific. She can focus on certain areas, instead of general sports promotion.

A few students have helped by joining that promotion bandwagon and have jump-started the student section tentatively titled Coach P’s Pack Attack.

But don’t assume they were major women’s basketball supporters in the past. Pack Attack founder Erik Schaefer, a manufacturing engineering junior, said he has only been to a couple of games.

It’s because of poor support from sports enthusiasts like himself that he decided to begin the section with a friend.

“I knew from personal experience, we’d never gone (to women’s games),” he said. “We wanted a way to make it more exciting because there is definitely a lack of support.”

And with Anderson behind the scenes organizing the marketing plan and McCallie’s intense personality on the sidelines, students should respond, he said.

“The new coach made it clear she really wants to increase attendance,” Schaefer said. “If we can get good attendance with a loud student section that can help them out, we will.”

Right now only 20 students have signed into the Pack. The group, sponsored by the Student Alumni Foundation, costs $21 - a $9 T-shirt and $12 membership charge.

General admission to women’s basketball games is free for all students.

Now with the season opener looming ahead next week, Anderson is pulling the last strings together and hoping for the best.

“It’s good to have someone fighting for them on the inside,” she said. “Not everyone takes women’s basketball seriously. I’m not sure what to expect, but I know the hard work will pay off.”

The women’s first home game is an exhibition game against the National Women’s Basketball League’s USA Elite Team at 2 p.m. Saturday at Breslin.


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