Spirited City Schools’ Students Remain MTSU Lady Raiders Education Day Good-Luck Charm

Murfreesboro City Schools’ student captains stand on the court during pregame introductions with the Middle Tennessee State University Lady Raiders basketball players Thursday, Dec. 1, in Murphy Center. MT Athletics and MTSU celebrated Education Day. An announced crowd of 3,500 people included youngsters from the 13 Murfreesboro City Schools. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Not that they need it, but the Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders have a good-luck charm in the form of Murfreesboro City Schools’ youngsters.

When the school kids show up — and some 3,500 did Thursday, Dec. 1, for the annual Education Day game — coach Rick Insell’s Lady Raiders usually win. Visiting Tennessee Tech found out the hard way, losing 83-45 in noisy Murphy Center.

Education Day games are a way for Middle Tennessee State University, the Lady Raiders and Blue Raiders to partner with the City Schools and Rutherford County Schools, bringing the youngsters to campus for a college game and a taste of university life.

The Lady Raiders, who had five players score in double figures, are 8-1 in Education Day games.

Students from elementary schools across Murfreesboro watch MTSU Blue Raiders women’s basketball defeat Tennessee Tech.

Loads of activities

From high-five tunnel (students high-fiving the Lady Raiders) to 3-shot challenge (first to make a layup, free throw and 3-pointer wins), the MT Athletic Marketing and MCS staff created lots of activities for the fourth- through sixth-grade students.

They turned teachers into mummies with toilet paper and the halftime “mascot madness” game was a hoot. There were winners in the ball-on-spoon and cotton catch activities.

The popular “Chicken Dance Song,” “Macarena” and “Let It Go” had them on their feet — and cheering on the Lady Raiders.

In an astronaut suit, Indyah Ceasar, 11, a sixth grader at Hobgood Elementary, a Tennessee STEAM-designated school, enjoyed competing with the other 12 mascots in the madcap halftime game. STEAM features science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

“It was very hot in the suit, which was kind of falling off, but I was able to get a point,” said Ceasar, who admits to having college basketball, WNBA or business entrepreneur aspirations someday.

Had she not been at the game, Ceasar, who is “on the verge of (being on the) A/B honor roll,” said she “probably would have been doing social studies or Greek, Roman, ancient times” at school.

City Schools Director Trey Duke said they “just appreciate our partnership with MTSU … Dr. (Sidney A.) McPhee, interim Dean (Rick) Vanosdall with the College of Education are always working with us and we’re always looking for new and great ways to partner with the university. We feel really blessed to have them as a neighbor of ours in the community.

“What’s probably most important for us is to make sure all of our students have an opportunity in elementary school to put their feet on a college campus and get a little bit of college experience so they can say, ‘I want to do that when I graduate. That’s where I want to go.’”

Duke, former principal at Salem Elementary, earned bachelor’s (2003), master’s (’08) and doctoral (’21) degrees from MTSU. McPhee attended the game.

The crowd of students from Cason Lane Academy cheers and waves during a fan-cam segment of the Education Day college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 1, between the Middle Tennessee State University Lady Raiders and visiting Tennessee Tech. In the partnership with MTSU and MT Athletics, Murfreesboro City Schools has brought thousands of students to Lady Raiders basketball games for the past nine years. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Another opportunity

Students attending both the women’s and men’s games received a voucher for them to attend a future home game free, with the purchase of an accompanying adult ticket.

The options include the Blue Raiders 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, game against Conference USA rival Western Kentucky and the 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, Lady Raiders game against CUSA opponent University of Texas-San Antonio.

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