Before waddling off, promotions say ‘game on’

By Teziah Howard
Jambar Contributor

When students and fans picture themselves in Beeghly Center for a showdown during a basketball game, spirits extend from Youngstown State University’s athletes to game-day promotions. 

With free merchandise, food and halftime activities, promotions allow students, fans and the community to get involved with games. Although the matchup between two teams ceases for the moment, there is still action that takes place on the court.

Emily Wilaj, a sophomore majoring in sports journalism, works as a marketing specialist for Athletics. Wilaj said game-day promotions bring students and spectators to games. 

“Promotions definitely bring students in, and by giving out free T-shirts, they come in to initially get the shirt and end up staying and having a good time, and it brings them to more games,” Wilaj said. “They’re coming to see the athletes play, and they get a feel for how fun the games actually are.”

Promotions take place before and throughout the game, during TV timeouts and in between halves. Before tip-off, members of the promotions staff begin the first wave of promotions, handing out merchandise to the arriving YSU students.

As a student employee, Wilaj sees the game through the eye of promotional benefits. Wilaj said she recognized the evolution of growth in the audience.

“Our main goal is to bring people in and it definitely works,” Wilaj said. “Our fans have definitely built over time as the season grows, our fan base grows as well.” 

Beeghly Center is home to a variety of sports, including volleyball and swimming and diving. According to, the facility has been a home to YSU sports since 1972. 

When the ‘Guins host basketball games, Wilaj said the environment in Beeghly is electric. 

“When we played the University of Milwaukee-Green Bay, I think we had about 6,000 people here,” Wilaj said. “Beeghly is starting to be known for the electric feel and electric vibe that the building has during the games.”

The promotion squad focuses on involving the community in every game. Wilaj said finding ways for children to have fun separates YSU from other universities. 

“A lot of kids love coming when they can be involved. It just gets them excited to come here,” Wilaj said. “ It separates us from the rest. We want them to be a part of gameday.” 

Patrick Donforio is a YSU graduate student who hypes up the crowd during breaks. Donofrio said kids’ involvement adds promotional value. 

“What we do in promotions is really all about the kids. We want to enhance their experience. We want to make them remember coming to these games,” Donofrio said. “Seeing kids smiling, that’s truly what makes you feel accomplished about doing your job.”

The audience impacts how often the promotions squad appears during the game. Donofrio makes an appearance multiple times during timeouts to ensure the crowd keeps the energy. 

“When we can get the crowd really into the game, I think it has an impact on the outcome,” Donofrio said.

Basketball season will come to a close, but game-day promotions will continue. As the Horizon League Championships approach, YSU’s promotion squad will be looking to piggy-back off last year, as it sold out tickets for a showdown with the University of Detroit Mercy.