Colonial Invasion {then & now}

Big George wants you on Friday night.

Spirit will come alive with the Colonials Invasion Friday, following the 6 p.m. GW vs. Fordham volleyball game in the Charles E. Smith Center. The annual event marks the official start of the basketball season, as teams are barred by NCAA rules from practicing before a designated Friday in October, which changes from year to year.

A switch from previous years, the roughly 45-minute long event was planned by GW Sports Marketing, instead of the GW Spirit program this year.

Both housed under Creative Management, the two entities have collaborated on events like Colonials Invasion since the Sports Marketing office was created in 2009. Last year, Sports Marketing took control for the planning, Matthew Ackermann, assistant director for sports marketing and promotions, said.

The event will be filled with special effects, including “videos, fog, special lighting and more” Ackermann said. He declined to comment on the cost of the event.

The highlight of the night will be the Buff and Blue Games, a scrimmage where the men’s and women’s basketball teams go head to head. Men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan will coach the buff team, and women’s basketball coach Mike Bozeman will coach the blue team.

This Colonials Invasion will be the first for Lonergan and Athletic Director Patrick Nero, as well as for the community in the renovated Smith Center.

“I hope that it will build some excitement for our team amongst the student body and get them involved in the Colonial Army to get as much support as we can for the season,” Lonergan said.

Colonials Invasion is GW’s innovation on the Midnight Madness commonly held by other universities nationwide, in which teams are debuted at midnight on the first official practice day of the season.

In 2002, GW’s last Midnight Madness event, named “Xtreme Madness,” drew upwards of 5,000 fans. The teams were introduced shortly after midnight on the first official practice day, but the event garnered criticism for its increased focus on entertainment acts and decreased attention to basketball.

The following year, the first ever Colonials Invasion, Oct. 23, 2003, drew 1,100 fans, according to University officials that year.

“It starts at an earlier time to accommodate all of our fans, including students, parents, faculty, staff, Foggy Bottom residents, families and the general Washington, D.C. community,” Lonergan said.

This year, there is an effort to bring the event back to an athletic focus.

“With the addition of the GW volleyball game, we’ve headed in a direction where it’s all about highlighting our student-athletes and less about bringing in outside performance groups or acts,” Ackermann said.

In past years, a few special or quirky performances have graced the courts for the Invasion. University President Steven Knapp played the drums in a performance with senior basketball player Travis King in 2009. The first non-University entertainment was in 2004, when the Harlem Globetrotters performed.

In 2007, New York rapper Fabolous performed for the crowds. He was the first musical guest at a Colonials Invasion.

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