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Jan. 13, 2006

Hilton halftime shows that keep you in your seat

by Samantha Beres

Some basketball fans say the games get 'em through the winter. It's true that Hilton can really heat up when Blalock and Medders hit the long shots.

One might say it's bonus points when there's a phenomenal halftime show to keep that energy high.

girl shooting through the air

The Fargo-Moorhead Acro Team -- a favorite of Cyclone fans -- returns to Hilton this winter to perform at halftime of the men's basketball game against Kansas on Jan. 28. Submitted photo.

If it's a good one, says Lauren Katovsky, "you're a little more pumped than if you just go to the concession stand and head back to your seat. It helps with the atmosphere," said the assistant director of marketing for athletics.

Katovsky books halftime shows for the women's games, and the crowd lets her know if a show is a success. Recently, the Frisbee Dogs were here -- canines that do an acrobatic jumping act while catching discs midair. Katovsky looked up during the performance to see the hoard of fans that went to buy snacks huddled along the concourse watching.

"You've really got to give fans a reason to stick to their seats," said assistant director of marketing for athletics Nathan Terry. He arranges halftime shows for the men's games and booked The Red Panda Acrobat for the Jan. 7 men's game against Kansas State. Fans gaped, then cheered as a woman on a seven-foot unicycle flung stacks of bowls balanced on her foot to her head.

What's to come

Terry said he tries to book halftime acts that people in central Iowa haven't seen before, but there's one he brings back every year: The Fargo-Moorhead Acro Team.

The group of about 30 young gymnasts from Fargo, N.D., set up trampolines and mats to do a tumbling routine that is breathtaking. Often, several of them are in the air at that same time, somersaulting past each other.

"The first time you see it, you're just amazed," said Terry of the six-minute show. The F-M Acro Team will be here for the men's game versus Kansas on Jan. 28.

While many of the halftime shows are from out of state, some are local, like the Iowa State Hip Hop Club and Juggling Club scheduled for women's games. Both teams host the Iowa State gymnastics team and the Isiserettes, an energetic drill team out of Des Moines.

Cyclone winners

Beyond the typical halftime acts are halftime ceremonies that honor some big time players.

WNBA player and former Cyclone Anne O'Neil is scheduled to accept an award at the halftime celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day. The ceremony will be held during the Jan. 29 game against Kansas State.

"We want to recognize as many female athletes as possible at that game," said Katovsky, who added that many current Cyclone athletes will be acknowledged during the ceremony.

Last year, the men's team hosted a half-time reunion that brought back Cyclone legends and NBA players Jeff Hornacek, Jeff Grayer, Barry Stevens and head coach Johnny Orr from the 1984-85 team. During pre-game, about 3,000 people lined up to get autographs.

This year's reunion will be the 1955-56 men's team. The ceremony will recognize the team's highlights and individual players during the game against Texas A&M Jan. 21.

Terry said that while half-time acts of great feats, choreographed to loud music work really well with the fans, the reunions work, too, because there's an increase in game attendance.


"You've really got to give fans a reason to stick to their seats."

Nathan Terry