Buddy Night encourages unity among all athletes

Alexis M. Johnson, Staff Writer

Buddy Night, an athletic event which strives to break down barriers between FMU’s sports teams, brought together all athletes for an evening of friendly competition on Tuesday, August 31.

The night, first proposed by former athletic director Gary Griffin about 14 years ago, is a way for the various athletic teams to know each other. Current athletic director Murray Hartzler continued the tradition a year after he assumed his position in 2000.

Buddy Night features a series of games that about twelve to fifteen teams, made up of about ten to fifteen members, rotate through.

“They compete in silly competitions such as the water balloon toss, free-throw shooting, a tennis accuracy contest and an obstacle course,” Hartzler said.

The night began with most athletes sitting with their fellow team members, something quickly discouraged by the seating arrangements and coaches.

As each team was formed, hesitation began to disappear and a friendly competitive spirit began to arise.

While all competitions provided their own excitement, some stood out. The water balloon toss was perhaps the most unnerving, while the obstacle course provided the familiar adrenaline rush felt by athletes. The golfing competition provided its typical subtle thrill felt by both the players and onlookers. The final tug of war between the top four teams was the highlight of the night, with the winning team and the runner-up team winning free t-shirts.

By the end of the night, it was clear that any apprehension previously felt by athletes new to Buddy Night was gone.
“New students believe it’s corny but love it by the end of the night,” Hartzler said.
Many of the athletes had the same sentiments.

“Buddy night was the best-I absolutely was in love with it,” soccer player Gentry Johnson said.

Many of the athletes’ favorite part of the event stems from Garry Griffin’s original intent for the night.

“My favorite part of buddy night is getting to meet new people and getting to know fellow athletes,” soccer player Justin Walton said.

Athletes finished Buddy Night by eating pizza and continuing to socialize.

Buddy Night is able to distinguish itself because it is one of the only events for the athletes to get together to have fun with members of different teams. However, one of the athletic department’s top priorities is making sure the athletes are not only succeeding on the field or on the court, but inside the classroom.

“We also have student welfare programs that are tailor-made for each class,” Hartzler said.

These programs include informing freshman about the Writing Center and other on-campus resources, informing sophomores about their majors and correct use of degree audits and informing juniors about resume writing and interview protocol.
Leaders from around the university inform the students about career services, public safety, and student leadership. There is also a drug and alcohol program and a sportsmanship program.

Buddy Night proved once again to be successful and will undoubtedly continue to bring athletes from all different teams together to build stronger bonds.

Athletes, new and old, are looking forward to next year’s Buddy Night.

“I will definitely be here trying to win my shirt!” Johnson said.