Skip to Main Site Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Back To Top

Campus police excited with return of Open Rec Night

Published on December 07, 2022

Campus police excited with return of Open Rec Night

Annual late-night recreation event returns after pandemic hiatus

The 25th Warriors Open Rec Night brought 500 students to Geissler gymnasium on Dec. 2, the first Open Rec held since the coronavirus pandemic. It was hosted by COPS, a division of the Campus Police Department that focuses on community-oriented policing. The six-hour event (9 p.m. – 2 a.m.), held annually before the pandemic, gave students an opportunity to relax before finals, engage in various activities and show support for the school’s police.

“We were a little unsure of what to expect, because it’s been three years since we’ve last held this event, but we got a good turnout and it’s loud. So, I know it’s going well,” said Sgt. Steve Schneider, the event’s organizer. “I’ve kind of perceived this year’s event as a return to normalcy. It’s nice to see that we were able to revitalize this event and return it to the way it was before—because, as far as I can tell, students are still having fun!”

Although Open Rec Night is renowned for its competitive three-on-three basketball tournament, the event also included recreational volleyball games, cornhole matches, raffle tickets and prizes, arts and crafts, a mechanical bull-riding station and a makeshift dining area located outside the gym.

“I know that a lot of students stop by to check on the intense basketball games, but I heard there was a mechanical bull this year, and I had to check it out,” said first-year business major Mackenzie Sheldon. “As a freshman, I feel extremely lucky to hopefully experience this event another three times! The volunteers did an amazing job bringing this event back to its former glory.”

Sgt. Schneider said Student Activities also played an integral role in revitalizing the event. In fact, COPS enlisted the assistance of the Campus Activity Board (CAB) and the Office of Housing and Residential life to help run and organize this year's Open Rec Night. In previous years, the police department worked independently to provide Eastern students with the jamboree.

“They’ve made the event better than before. I mean, we’ve never had a mechanical bull before—the thing is awesome,” said Schneider. “Without their help, we wouldn’t be able to see everybody getting together and having fun while all in the same room.”

After the event’s three-year hiatus, retired Willimantic police Lt. Derrick McBride was able to renew the famous half-court basketball tournament that he and his colleagues started in 1995. “Especially after the pandemic, it’s nice to see students doing things and being physically active again,” he said. “It’s just a great way to bring the college community together before finals. It’s nice to let the kids relax a little before they really have to lock in. I’d rather see them interacting with members of their community, as opposed to partying.”

Many students and student-athletes sacrificed their Saturday evenings to volunteer at the event. Baseball players Emmanuel Zaiter and Nicholas Furino officiated at the basketball games, while soccer players Caleb Ennin and Logan Prempeh distributed raffle tickets.

“Especially after the short break and right before finals, it’s great to see Eastern students and faculty all bonding with one another by getting involved in each event,” said sophomore baseball player Nick Furino. “The support for our campus and the officers who keep us safe has been overwhelming.”

A vast majority of student volunteers relayed similar sentiments. Almost all of them described an unwavering sense of pride for their ability to “give back to a community that has given (them) so much,” as Ennin said.

Despite the event’s short-lived discontinuation due to the global pandemic, Sgt. Schneider was confident the event will return to its annual schedule. However, Schneider said that the historic event will endure one final change prior to its return in 2023.

“It’s bittersweet. I’m retiring, so this is going to be my last Open Rec. But I guarantee you that next year’s event will be even bigger and better,” said Schneider, whose duties will be assumed by Det. Kari Glaude. Glaude reassured Open Rec enthusiasts that the event is in safe hands.

“Steve’s been showing me the ropes, so I won’t let him down,” said Glaude. “Even though I’m new to the event. I can tell that it is an absolutely amazing evening, that students have been anticipating for a very long time. Either way, I hope all the students continue having fun and enjoying every aspect of the event.”

Written by Jack Jones