West Liberty kicks off new season of Basketball with Topper’s Den event

On Monday Nov. 8, West Liberty’s student activities department went all out hosting an event known as Topper’s Den. This event was coordinated similar to a pep rally highlighting all the West Liberty winter sports.

Kate Billings, director of student activities, explained that she had been formulating ideas about creating an event like Topper’s Den back when she was just a marketing intern. Billings finally got a chance to make her ideas a reality last month during Homecoming festivities. Billings and her graduate assistants highlighted the fall sports teams as well as had the West Liberty cheer team, dance team and marching band perform on the quad. Some basketball players were in attendance and asked Billings if she could do something similar for winter sports.

“Our goal is to get more students involved, and invested, and we thought this could hopefully become a new tradition. Build up Topper’s Den to get students out to all sporting events, not just basketball, but Wrestling, Acro, and more in the Spring,” said Billings.

When it came to planning the Topper’s Den event, Billings and one of her graduate assistants, Zach Haught, made sure to be meticulous in their decision making. Both had to figure out how long the event should last, who would be involved and how they were going to attract students.

“Through the process of planning, I really needed to remind myself and Zach that this is the first time trying it. Some things may work, some things may not, and we do not need to go crazy this first time. Do what we can with our resources and build in the following years,” said Billings.

Billings and Haught did just that. In fact, Billings mentioned that Haught was adamant about making Topper’s Den the best event it could possibly be by taking on the majority of the responsibilities. With Haught taking the reins, Billings was able to get both the men and womens basketball teams, wrestling team, cheerleading team and dance team to participate.

On the night of the event, the ASRC arena was packed with students. Minutes before the event started, Billings had the idea to give away T-shirts with a Topper’s Den logo on them to the first 150 students.
“SGA helped by splitting the cost of the shirts with us, which was greatly appreciated. Now we have 200 students with Topper’s Den shirts to wear proudly at upcoming Hilltopper Sporting events,” said Billings.

The fun did not stop there, however. When it came time to highlight each team, Billings showed cinematic hype videos, created by Rex Lancaster, on the big video board in the arena.

Billings’ main goal was to get students involved; she wanted them to enjoy themselves. To make this happen, Billings added on court competitions such as half court shot, three point shooting and lay up contests. Whenever a student won a contest, he or she was awarded a gift card worth 25 or 50 dollars.
Overall, Billings was rather satisfied with how Topper’s Den turned out. She was happy that a lot of students showed up and were able to have a great time.

“Really at the end of the day we could have put on this event and no one could have shown up. So it is great to see students want to be there, stay after receiving their shirt, get into the spirit, have some fun and participate in the on court games. We hope that this will roll over and we see great student support at future games,” said Billings.

Some winter sport athletes were impressed as well with the outcome of the Topper’s Den event.
“I think everyone was happy. I thought it was a cool way to get everybody pumped up and excited,” said freshman men’s basketball player, Austin Webb.

“I thought it was cool. I tried to build up the hype and the energy for the wrestling team. I think it’s important to acknowledge and support all our athletic teams,” said freshman member of the wrestling team, Keaton Grider.

This week, Billings and her team conducted a meeting in which they discussed some improvements that could be made in the future using the feedback they received from students and those who helped out during the festivities.

“I think time management wise we learned what could be cut down. Some items dragged on or there was lag time, so we can easily change the amount of times for shootarounds and coaches interviews. Our goal was to keep it around an hour which we did, but there are some areas to tweak,” said Billings
Billings hopes to expand Topper’s Den in the future. Billings also mentioned that, to get more students involved, she and her team could incorporate more pre and post event activities, provide free food, or maybe hire a DJ to play music. Billings even talked about including the community, considering the men and women basketball teams are popular in the area, by having players from both teams do an autograph line or take team photographs with children.

Though Billings has some ambitious ideas in mind, she wants to focus on building Topper’s Den on campus first before expanding too quickly.