Tent City photo

All 35 groups that attended the socially distanced event Saturday got to enjoy watching GU play while outside on Foley lawn. 

On March 20 Gonzaga men’s basketball took on Norfolk State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Traditionally, Zags games call for big crowds, overflowing stands and watch parties all over campus. Fans will make the trip to see the Zags play live every year.

This year things looked different with COVID-19 and the Kennel Club hosting a new take on old traditions at GU with Tent City: The Remix.

“We are trying to offer way for students to gather [at GU] in support of our basketball team [during] COVID-19, because this was something that was not able to happen this year,” said Crissy Lubke, brand representative for Kennel Club.

Lubke said only 35 groups could register for the event, which took place on Foley Lawn. Each group was 8 to 10 feet apart, and unlike previous years, tents were not a part of the event.

Kennel Board worked with the Spokane Regional Health District since January to plan Ten City: The Remix.

GU cheer team performed before tipoff, and Bomb Squad and Dance Team were able to perform at half time.

“It’s just so exciting that we have been able to come in and experience this, it’s been a daylong event, the students checked in between 2 and 3:30 p.m.,” Lubke said. “If there was a way to have every student in this tent city we would.”

The event had giveaways, prizes, free food and opportunities for alcoholic beverages for students over the age of 21 as a part of the GU Social Club.

Alumni were present to serve the traditional breakfast burritos that are normally served the morning of game day after tent groups slept in their tents. 

“We have been coming out and supporting students at Tent City for about 10 years now, and it’s a way for us to connect with students as they go through their student experience and eventually become alumni," said Drew Rieder, director of regional chapters in the alumni office at GU. 

Rieder graduated from GU in 1996 and is glad to see GU students gathering again to watch the Zags play and participate in Tent City: The Remix!

Sophomore Emily Schroeder said being a Zags fan this year is different from her first year.

“It’s just different compared to the Kennel,” Schroeder said.

Despite the differences, Schroeder decided to come out with her friends for the new version of Tent City.

“We just love the community, I personally love the spirit, and everybody coming together and just seeing the faces of the students because we haven’t gotten to see many people this year,” Schroeder said.

Bomb Squad was also able to perform for the first time live since the start of COVID-19.

“It just feels really good to be back in the Gonzaga spirit face to face with other Zags and get to share what we’ve been working really hard on,” said Bomb Squad co-captain and senior Jenna Matthews.

Matthews said Bomb Squad has helped her find her family on campus and has made GU feel like home.

“We (Kennel Club) were inspired because we honestly felt like we were in a Zag fandom drought…so we were working since December and January trying to think of some ideas of what we could do that would be COVID safe while giving students an opportunity to celebrate being a Zag,” said Clare Martin, senior and president of the Kennel Club.

Martin said the groups are more spread out than the traditional Tent City, less groups and instead of having students run to compete for tent numbers, there was an online registration which had over 200 GU students on the waitlist.

“For seniors, I would say thank you so much, I know it’s been a hard year for all of us,” Martin said. “For all of you that showed up to the beer garden and to tent city I hope you had a great time and hopefully [it’s] not your last time celebrating being a Zag on campus.”

Karlie Murphy is the copy editor.

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