Alumni across the Country Gear Up for the Big Game

Posted: March 24, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Carrie Lake

From New York to Texas and Florida to Wisconsin, Mason alumni around the country are planning to gather for tonight’s match-up between the Patriots and the Wichita State Shockers.

It only makes sense – with classes offered at four Virginia locations, George Mason has a distributed campus – why wouldn’t it have distributed watch parties all over the nation?

“My wife Tanya and I were season ticket holders until we moved to Knoxville, Tenn.,” says Mike Ickowitz, BA ’03, who contacted the Alumni Affairs office on Monday to say he would organize a party near his home.

“This is our way of continuing to support the team. We know that there is a contingent of Mason alum in the Knoxville area and thought it would be fun to cheer on the team together.”

Chris Nicholson, BA ’95, of Framingham, Mass., said he chose to organize a watch party so he could enjoy the experience with other Mason fans who truly appreciate how special this game is.

“I’m optimistic the party will bring together fellow alumni who may not have realized that there are others in the area,” Nicholson says.

Nicholson has been following the team since Ernie Nestor was coach.

“Larranaga has truly transformed Mason basketball into a class program that the university can be proud of. It is equal parts competitive and fun to watch, and I think he and the team deserve all the accolades and attention that they’ve been receiving this week,” he says.

Of course, most watch parties are concentrated in Mason’s own backyard. Between Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C., there are almost 30 watch sites planned.

“Of Mason’s 104,000 alumni, about 60,000 live in the greater Washington region,” says Chris Clark-Talley, executive director of Alumni Affairs. “The excitement and pride alumni are showing right now is thrilling, and we are welcoming them back with open arms.”

“Although I have always been proud of being an alumna of George Mason University, it is so exciting to get the national attention we are receiving, thanks to Coach Larranaga and his exceptional team,” says Nancy Sydnor, BS ’99, who is a marketing manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“It is very satisfying that it’s my team that everyone in the office is talking about during March Madness. That is sweet,” she says.

“Having been a loyal fan of the team since the ’80s, I’ve been through the ups and downs along the way. Watching the team in the Sweet 16 is a dream come true,” says Todd Donohue, BS ‘93, MS ’03.

Donohue adds, “The media attention the school is receiving is beyond anything I could have imagined. My hope is that as the public hears about the success of the basketball team they will look further and see a great university possessing excellent faculty, talented and diverse students and the potential to become even greater.”

Write to at