The entire Eugene Field Elementary School was in attendance at the Southwell Complex Friday afternoon for a unique school assignment - to cheer.
The 285 children in attendance filled the gym with high-pitched shrieks and cheers every time the Columbia College men's basketball team scored in its 72-61 victory over the Lyon College Scots.
In what has become an annual event for the Cougars, Friday’s game was the last time the children from Field Elementary would be attending a Cougar basketball game on a field trip.
After 22 years of partnership with Columbia College, the children at Field will be moving to Alpha Hart Lewis in January.
“It was natural to partner with Field just down the block,” Dean for Campus Life Faye Burchard said. “Field has really developed a culture here at Columbia College. It’s almost like Field is really an extension of the Columbia college family.”
The partnership has given the kids an opportunity to experience college-level sports first-hand.
“They love it,” Burchard said. For a couple of them, it was their first basketball game they have seen, so they were having a great time.”
In addition to the non-stop cheering, the kids were always up and moving. During every break in the game, the kids were dancing to the pep band, doing the monkey or the running man to “We Got The Funk.”
Looking to come into Friday’s game with high energy, Cougars Head Coach Bob Burchard, Faye Burchard’s husband, loved the atmosphere the kids brought to Southwell Complex.
“We were pushing for a lot of energy, that was really an emphasis,” Coach Burchard said. “Having the Field kids here added a lot of excitement to the building.”
The Cougars used the excitement to control the game. After going up 21 points with about seven minutes left in the second half, the Cougars held off a comeback to pull out the victory.
While junior guard Aleksander Eric helped push the tempo with 12 points and five steals, all but one Cougar scored in Friday’s victory.
“We do not have one guy who just is so above and beyond everybody else that he is going to dominate games, that’s evident,” Coach Burchard said. “So if we are going to do this…we have to play hard all the time then depend on each other, not just one.”
The Cougars counteracted Scots’ forward James Jackson’s 28 points by forcing 25 turnovers and shooting 50 percent from the field.
The win pushes the Cougars record to 5-9 and drops the Scots to 3-8.
The Cougars return to the court Jan. 1 against Culver-Stockton at 8 p.m. at Southwell Complex.