Generations of Purdue University Northwest (PNW) athletes, students, and alumni came together at the seventh annual Sports Fest on September 9. Hundreds packed Dowling Park in Hammond to enjoy an action-filled afternoon as they watched many of the university’s sports teams, such as soccer, baseball, softball, tennis, hockey, and others, hit the fields and courts.
Multiple vendors, such as Domino’s and PepsiCo, were also present and offered fun recreational activities for people to enjoy throughout the day. With spirit wear booths, cheer routines, and games being played on every field, Sports Fest continues to be an event loved by everyone each year.
PNW Director of Athletics Rick Costello is proud of how much the athletics department has grown, this year reaching 450 student-athletes in total. He thanks the community for embracing PNW.
“It's just great to see the community embrace the university and our athletics program, and we had a fabulous turnout here today,” Costello said. “We're just really excited to see all these folks coming out wearing black and gold and supporting the Pride of the Northwest.”
For the last two years, PNW has also represented Hispanic Heritage Month during the Sports Fest. PNW’s Women’s Soccer team wore shirts that proudly displayed Hispanic Heritage Month on the field for the evening’s game to help celebrate the two events.
Student Athlete Lauryn Tillman said she is looking forward to showing everyone how much she and her team have put into this year’s season.
“I'm just excited for us to get some wins under our belt,” Tillman said. “Everyone trained really hard over the summer.”
Tillman’s teammate Brinley Hefty shares the same enthusiasm about the upcoming season and is looking forward to all the friendly competition that is yet to come.
“I'm excited to start conference games just to get back into that Friday to Sunday schedule and start competing in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC),” Hefty said.
The love of athletics wasn’t only present in the current athletes. Alumni also came out in black and gold to showcase their love for PNW.
PNW women’s basketball alumna Alexah Roepke and Assistant Coach Amanda Logan came out this year to support their alma mater. Roepke is a recent alum, and Logan is an alum who became an assistant coach and has been coming to Sports Fest for the last six years.
“My favorite part of Sports Fest is just seeing all the sports come out to support one another,” Logan said.
Roepke shares the same outlook on Sports Fest as Costello. She’s excited to see how much the athletic community and its supporters grow each year, and the turnout never ceases to amaze her each time.
“I think all the teams in general have grown their support systems,” Roepke said. “This is one of the events that a lot of people come to, so it makes it feel more like a community when you see everybody coming out to support all the athletes.”
Creating a sense of community is something that PNW takes pride in. The university loves having this event and enjoys watching it grow over the years. Student-athletes come together with alumni to share that love of their school with the surrounding community.
Communications Specialist Kale Wilk thinks that outreach to the community is important and that events such as the Sports Fest implement it well across PNW.
“Sports Fest really speaks to Purdue Northwest and our athletics about how invested we are in the community. It makes an impactful change,” Wilk said. “The connections that our student-athletes are making here today with community members, I think that really speaks to the character of what Purdue Northwest is all about and helping the community Power Onward.”
To learn more about Purdue University Northwest Athletics visit pnwathletics.com.