Spring game day experience wows new football coach

Winona+State+community+joined+on+Johnson+Street+to+celebrate+a+pre-game+experience+for+the+Purple+vs.+White+scrimmage.

Joseph Eichele

The Winona State community joined on Johnson Street to celebrate a pre-game experience for the Purple vs. White scrimmage.

Jiovani Bermudez, features reporter

Last Saturday, April 23, Winona State University hosted the second “Spring Warrior Game Day.” Game Days are events that provide a time for members of the community to interact and enjoy food, music, giveaways and activities prior to a Warrior football game.

Tracy Hale, director of alumni engagement at Winona State, started the Game Day experience with a committee of 30 individuals from a multitude of departments on campus including Winona State’s Student Senate, student services, housing, athletics, coaches and community members.

“We have a foundation board member who was a former football player. A group of former football players brought it to the Vice President of University Advancements radar and said, ‘I think we should have a bigger tailgate experience,’ and they came to me and said ‘Make it happen,’” Hale shared.

Unlike the usual Game Days, this spring event was on a smaller scale than the fall Game Days. The game was an intervarsity game as opposed to a game against an opposing school. Members of the Winona State football team were split into two separate teams, white and purple and played against each other.

“Think of it as like a little carnival on Johnson Street. For two hours we have fun on Johnson street for free… Last fall we were voted the best Game Day experience in all of Minnesota,” Hale commented. “We don’t always do a spring community day experience but with Coach Bergstrom being a new football coach, we wanted to give him a feel for what the Game Day experience was like.”

The Warrior football team walking out to the pre-game crowds. (Joseph Eichele)

The event started at 11 a.m. Despite facing dark skies and occasional sprinkles, the attendees’ spirits were high. Several organizations including the women’s lacrosse team, the Warrior Entertainment Network and Visit Winona were in attendance performing trivia games and giveaways. Attendees of the event enjoyed fresh mini donuts and food provided by Stumpy’s Concessions and La Borinqua. The event also featured a bungee jump that was popular among attendees.

Alhea Wright, a third-year computer science and history major, attended the event working with the Warrior Entertainment Network.

“I love the vibe of the Game Day experience, the free stuff and the food,” Wright said.

Visara Sok, a third-year biology allied health major, echoed this sentiment.

“I hope we do more of these [Game Days],” Sok said. “There is so much potential.”

Stumpy's Concessions' food truck at the spring game day event.
Stumpy’s Concessions’ food truck at the spring game day event. (Joseph Eichele)

The Spring Warrior Game Day was not was not exclusive to Winona State students. Several attendees at the event were alumni, family and members of the Winona community.

One of these attendees was Jackie Ziemniarski, whose son will be attending Winona State and playing for the football team in the fall.

“We came to check [Spring Warrior Game day] out. I think it is great. It’s a lot of fun and gets energy up,” Ziemniarski shared.

At 12:55 p.m. the football team, adorned in purple and white uniforms, made their way down to the stadium. This walk was accompanied with a barrage of applause, chants and endearment from the crowd. Several gave high-fives to the team as they walked by.

The event came to a close with the start of the intervarsity game. Hale has made it clear that this spring event was small compared to what happens in the fall. She looks forward to hosting the larger events in the fall and making it bigger in the spring.