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Redbird Athletics hosts Ballin’ on Beaufort event to build preseason excitement

Written by on October 23, 2023

NORMAL, Ill. – Redbird Athletics, in collaboration with Normal, hosted the Illinois State men’s and women’s basketball teams for their new, preseason event on Thursday, October 19.

Ballin’ on Beaufort, which served as Hoopfest’s replacement, kicked off with happy hour at 5:00 p.m., while team introductions began at 6:30 p.m. Prior to meeting the players, fans were encouraged to enjoy the fan zone. Between the inflatables, giveaway tents, apparel tables, balloon artist, music and chance to shoot around on the temporarily installed Illinois State court, attendees were able to immerse themselves into the excited atmosphere.

As the program began, the court cleared and the Illinois State competitive dance performed as a welcome. The ISU cheerleaders, along with fans, then aligned themselves along the red carpet to greet the teams.

Following introductions, player Deanna Wilson’s favorite activity of the night ensued: the players and coaches strutted their way down the crimson carpet, high-fiving their loudest and proudest fans. Once all on the court, players warmed up in preparation for the events to proceed.

The three-point contest served as an opportunity for four players, two from each team, to showcase their skills. After a head-to-head competition, newcomer Johnny Kinziger of Wisconsin proved to be victorious.

Succeeding Kinziger’s win, children were invited on to the court to compete in a shootout against the teams. Wife of men’s basketball Head Coach Ryan Pedon, Stephanie Pedon, favored this competition as she thought it was fun for fans to witness the players not only interact with but also cheer on kids within the community.

One fan then had the opportunity to shoot and make a three-pointer landing her season tickets. Six ISU students also took turns attempting three-pointers to score a years worth of pizza from Pizza Ranch.

As the event concluded, fans gathered their collectible posters, shirts and basketballs to be autographed by the teams.

During this time, Wilson expressed her hope for the event to occur again. She believes the event did a great job at engaging community interest to attend, get involved, and have fun.

Pedon also wishes for Ballin’ on Beaufort to be an annual preseason kick off. She thinks the community support was awesome and allowed for an excitement in the air.

Looking forward to basketball’s commencement, she hopes that same energy continues throughout the season. Pedon noted the addition of eight new players to the men’s roster and believes they are displaying great chemistry. She is excited to get back in the stands at CEFCU arena games and watch how the team comes together.

CEFCU arena will host Redbird basketball fans at its exhibition game on Sunday, October 29 for the first match of the school year. The game includes a matchup that has not occurred for 53 years: Illinois State vs. Illinois Wesleyan.