TRIGGER WARNING: This article discusses the mass shooting that took place on the evening of Monday, Feb. 13 on Michigan State University’s campus. We encourage all community members affected by this tragedy to reach out to the free and confidential services offered by Michigan State University and East Lansing, which can be found here.
After a mass shooting on Michigan State’s campus Monday night leaving three students dead and five injured, Saturday night’s rivalry game was the last thing on fans' minds.
It wasn't an ordinary start to the showdown either. Instead of the usual pregame rituals, Michigan paid its respects to Michigan State, trading in "Little brother"chants for "We love you brother" signs.
With the Maize Rage student section decked out in shirts reading “Michigan Basketball stands with MSU” and Spartan stickers being passed out upon entry, this was no typical matchup.
As the green and white approached the court for pregame warmups, the entire arena came to their feet in support. Regardless of loyalty to one team or another, none of that mattered in the final minutes leading up to tipoff.
The arena lights faded to green as the crowd took a moment of silence to honor the three students tragically killed on Monday night, Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser, Alexandria Verner and the five who remain hospitalized.
Following the moment of silence, the UMich student university president Noah Zimmerman embraced ASMSU president Jo Kovach with a hug, as the UMich band proceeded to play MSU’s alma mater.
"It meant a lot," senior guard Tyson Walker said. "They put pride aside and they did something for the greater purpose.”
For longtime Spartans and Toronto residents Brad, Joey and Max Goldsmith, they knew the game would be uncharted territory.
Despite the four hour travel time, the three have made sure to attend their fair share of MSU football and basketball games over the course of the year. One of their favorites being a trip to Spartan Stadium on Oct. 30 when the Spartans crept back to knock off UMich 37-33.
After plans to attend Wednesday's game against Minnesota were called off, the three were unsure if they would be able to see the Spartans play this trip.
“We hoped they would play, but also want the players and staff to have the right thoughts in mind and make sure they’re okay too,” Max said.
As a sophomore in high school and possible MSU student in the near future, Max was saddened to hear the news on Monday night. MSU has been a special place to him and his brother, his love of the school coming from his dad at a young age.
“It opens your eyes,” Max said. “You never think something like that would happen.”
For Joey and Max’s father Brad, the news was just as frightening. Brad expressed concern, knowing that his sons will soon be in college, and what happened at Berkey Hall and the MSU Union can occur anywhere, and anytime.
Brad recalls being a student on campus, spending time in the old school computer labs at the Union. The proud Spartan alumnus struggled to place himself in the students' shoes from Monday.
“To have that taken away and feeling violated, I couldn’t imagine that,” Brad said. “I felt really bad and scared for the kids.”
College basketball fan Billie Drake is relieved that his two children are grown and graduated with all the adversity children nowadays are faced with, including mass shootings.
Although he’s thankful that his two daughters are far removed from college, he feels for current Spartans and the community that’s grieving.
“The world is broken ... when it happens tragically, everybody hurts,” Drake said. “When our friends and our family and our neighbors hurt, we hurt with them. We’re broken, like they are.”
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For MSU 2021 graduate Connor Rogers, the tragedy hits too close to home. The alumnus has a couple friends still in school and has been reaching out to them as much as possible, letting them know he’s there to support them.
“You never know when it’s going to happen or where,” Rogers said. “I think you just have to treat people the best you can and if you see someone struggling you have to speak out and help them so something like this doesn't happen.”
If Saturday’s game proved anything, it's that some things are bigger than basketball. The rivalry aside, each and every person in attendance Saturday night was impacted by the tragedy in East Lansing.
At the end of the day it’s just a game, but the unity of the state of Michigan is forever.
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