More than 400 students attended the inaugural “Camp Pearl” event Friday, Feb. 26, at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Camp Pearl idea was developed by Student Alumni Associates member Richard “Sully” Sullivan as a way to build spirit among the student body and to support the Vols basketball team as they took on archrival Kentucky on Saturday, Feb. 27.
Students began lining up on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. even though the doors to the arena were not scheduled to open until 9:30 that night, said Unite student coordinator Trisha DiMatteo.
After the doors did open, the men’s basketball team joined the Camp Pearl fun, addressing the crowd and holding a drawing for tickets for special courtside seating. The players also hung around to take pictures and mingle with the students.
After a night of games, movies, 150 pizzas, and 90 boxes of doughnuts, students crawled into their sleeping bags for a couple of hours of sleep. All those who camped out on the concourse of Thompson-Boling Arena were given wristbands that gave them priority seating for Saturday’s big game versus Kentucky.
All the spirit and excitement must have helped, as the Vols rolled over the Wildcats 74-65! And Camp Pearl even made waves on TV—the guys on ESPN couldn’t stop talking about it!
Unite is an open membership student group that promotes traditions on the campus. Unite members participate in various student activities and opportunities to connect with alumni, and take part in volunteer projects with the campus and community.