Student body rallies around women’s basketball team on big game day

Katie Atkinson, Staff Writer

Tonight, the Mercer student body rallied to cheer for a team that is often overlooked — women’s basketball. And they managed to keep it a secret.

Fans filled the usually vacant student section during the Bears’ game against Chattanooga.

Football player Tony Perella was instrumental in organizing the surprise. He decided to muster student support after women’s basketball coach Susie Gardner mentioned that the team rarely gets a large student turnout.  

“She called out the student body for not really attending the basketball games for the women’s’ team,” said Perella. “I took a lot of leaders from around the campus and put them in a GroupMe together, and we started figuring out ways that we could make the surprise happen.”

The Mercer Maniacs helped Perella by offering free t-shirts to the first 400 students who arrived at the game. They urged students not to post the offer on social media or tell any of the team players about their plan, wanting it to remain under wraps.

Perella wasn’t going to take Gardner’s criticism without putting up a fight first.

“I kind of took it to heart,” said Perella. “When she called [fans] out, she called everyone out.”

The Mercer Bears won their game 67-44.