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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette nation travels to Washington D.C. for NCAA tournament

Photo by Daniel Alfonzo/
Photo by Daniel Alfonzo/[email protected]

When the Marquette men’s basketball team competed in NCAA Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight tournament games last week, several hundred Marquette fans traveled to Washington, D.C.,  from across the country to support the team.

Despite being mostly strangers, the fans came together to create a close-knit community.

The Golden Eagles were stationed at the Washington Marriot Hotel in Washington, D.C. Two hours before each game, fans gathered at the hotel for a pre-game reception and to send off the team with cheers, chants and high fives. The Marquette pep band and spirit squad kept the crowd going with songs and cheers. The team paraded through the hotel lobby as it made its way to the buses outside.

Michael Bartley, a 1984 graduate of the College of Communication and managing editor at WQED in Pittsburgh, said he appreciated the chance to see the team live.

“You have to realize we Marquette alums who don’t live in Milwaukee don’t get to be with the players often,” Bartley said. “We just cheer while watching the games on television. So seeing them off and wishing them luck in person was such a thrill. And our players were so accommodating, shaking everyone’s hand.”

The presence of the Marquette community was apparent at the pre-game receptions, city streets and the Verizon Center, where the tournament games were played. On the way to the Verizon Center and after the game, Marquette fans were seen in bars and restaurants chanting, “We are Marquette.”

“The Marquette community is second to none,” Bartley said. “When I got to the Sweet Sixteen pre-game reception, I ran into people I hadn’t seen in 30 years. We simply picked up where we left off. Our Marquette community is one of keen loyalty. We never lose that.”

For some, interaction with the team started before leaving Milwaukee. The Marquette pep band and spirit squad traveled with the basketball team on a charter plane.

“Traveling with the team and the band was absolutely wonderful,” said Katherine Padilla, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and member of the Marquette pep band. “There was such a sense of camaraderie among everyone.”

While the majority of fans in the arena cheered for Miami and Syracuse, a concentrated section of Marquette fans opposite the Marquette bench made their voices heard. During the Miami game, the Marquette fan section filled the stadium with cheers.

“We may not have had the most fans at a game, but we were very vocal and respectful at the game,” Padilla said. “I think that’s the kind of attitude the Marquette community as a whole has – we’re very passionate about Marquette, but we respect others around us.”

Joseph Flores, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, was happy to be at the game.

“The camaraderie we experience when seeing other MU fans was thrilling,” Flores said. “It really made me proud to see so many people coming together to appreciate and enjoy the great basketball tradition this school has developed over the years.”

Flores traveled with a group of close friends in car from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., Wednesday night and arrived Thursday morning.

“We traveled with a few of my buddies; it was a long trip in the car, but it was great because we all split the gas, took turns driving and had a blast,” Flores said.

Flores said he enjoyed exploring the city and seeing the national monuments and cherry blossoms in between games.

“The Marquette community really impressed me this past weekend, because I realized how vast Marquette Nation is,” Flores said. “There is an instant connection, whether you are on campus or across the country. The Marquette community is very strong and constantly growing.”

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