The hype was real. The new Convocation Center lived up to its expectations.
Nighthawks fans witnessed UNG senior guard Julie McKie become the first player to score in the new Convocation Center during UNG’s senior day and homecoming game against Georgia Southwestern State University. The new gym has two large screens, so fans have their choice of watching the action on the court or the screens. The hype of opening the new gym, along with the festivities of homecoming and senior day, attracted over 2,000 fans to Saturday’s games. One of those fans was sophomore biology major Octavio Aguado.
“[The new Convocation Center] makes it more like a college atmosphere. It brings more attention to the sports teams,” Aguado said. “This is actually my first basketball game, and the only reason why I was motivated to go to this game was the Convocation Center and I am pretty excited about it.”
UNG President Bonita Jacobs also came out to the inaugural game, which the Nighthawks went on to win 105-52.
“I love the new gym. It is one of the most wonderful things that could happen for North Georgia. Considering we won 105-52, I’ll take it any day. It was a wonderful game [and] the women looked great,” Jacobs said.
Nighthawks fans seemed to really make the most of the grand opening experience. Several fans were shown dancing on the large screens during breaks in the games. Some also wore costumes like Justin New, a cadet at UNG, who wore a Captain America costume to the game.
“They said come out with some spirit so I figured it would be nice,” New said. “[The new Convocation Center is] nice. It’s really big and spacious. It has enough room for everybody to come here to cheer our teams on.”
Mackenzie Darrah, a senior forward on the team, also enjoyed her senior day at the new gym.
“I love it, it’s a great atmosphere [and] it’s really exciting to play in,” Darrah said.
The second game of the day featured the UNG men’s basketball team which didn’t go as well for the Nighthawks. North Georgia lost to GSW 84-66. The men’s team heads into the Peach Belt Conference tournament as the No. 6 seed and likely won’t play another home game this season. The women’s team has at least one more game in the new gym as the Nighthawks are the No. 1 seed in the PBC tournament and will host all of their remaining PBC tournament games.
“It feels awesome. That was kind of a goal of ours, to finish No. 1, so we could host it, and for it to be in the new gym is just icing on the cake,” UNG Women’s basketball head coach Buffie Burson said.
McKie, like her coach, is also already looking forward to the next game in the Convocation Center.
“It’s a lot of energy and I just hope that with the next game coming up for the tournament we have as many people that are here as now and be here and support us,” McKie said.