Թϱ

Թϱ

Students return to fountain for 3rd women’s basketball title celebration: It's a 'once in a lifetime college memory’

<p>A student at the University of South Carolina belly flops into the Thomas Cooper Reflecting Pool after the women's basketball National Championship win on April 7, 2024. The Gamecocks had a comeback win after suffering from an 11-point Iowa Hawkeyes lead.</p>
A student at the University of Թϱ belly flops into the Thomas Cooper Reflecting Pool after the women's basketball National Championship win on April 7, 2024. The Gamecocks had a comeback win after suffering from an 11-point Iowa Hawkeyes lead.

The buzzer sounded, signifying the end of the 2024 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship game, and the Thomas Cooper Library fountain became a sea of garnet and black. 

The April 7 victory marks the Gamecocks’ third national title — and the third celebration in the fountain for University of Թϱ students.

The gathering at the fountain also marks the end of the Gamecocks' revenge tour against Iowa. Last year, the then-undefeated Gamecocks fell to Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes and were knocked out of the 2023 Final Four. 

Students now revel in memories of the championship from two years ago, when the Gamecocks defeated the University of Connecticut for its second national title.

“It brings back memories from two years ago,” fourth-year economics and mathematics student Weston Watts said in a blue Speedo. “I don’t like Iowa. Caitlin Clark’s great, but I think we've proved today that we're just better.” 

Students ran from their watch parties, apartments and Five Points, often blocking Columbia traffic, to join the aquatic celebration. 

“Buzzer ended, rushed straight over (from) 650,” first-year real estate student Ryder Ruppe said. 

Students splashed in the fountain and felt united in celebrating the Gamecocks' heavily-anticipated victory. 

WBB-Campus-Coverage-Jatin-010.JPG

Թϱ Gamecock students swarm the Thomas Cooper Fountain and Reflecting Pool within minutes of the Gamecocks' 87-75 win against the Iowa Hawkeyes on April 7, 2024. The victory marks the Gamecocks' third NCAA championship win.

“When everyone was like, ‘We won’ — like everyone just came rushing in,” second-year public health student Sravya Sunkara said. “That is just the coolest feeling ever, like being part of that team spirit, like feeling you’re with a team."

The festivities brought in all sorts of attendees from the community, both two-legged and four-legged. 

“He likes getting in the fountain a lot,” fourth-year Natasia Caldwell said about BMO, her 180-pound water dog. “It’s his favorite pastime.”

Many students said they had been planning their fountain trip all season, some having transferred from other schools to join The Cockpit.

“I finally got my chance,” third-year finance student William Cook said. “It feels good. It’s very worth it to transfer.” 

First-years and second-years also got to join in the tradition for the first time.

“The bar's up high (after my) first year. I'm expecting three more, so they better deliver,” Madison Hall, a first-year political science student said.

Students said the sprinklers in the fountain added to the experience. Some said the light of the late afternoon created a rainbow in the fountain over the cheering students.

"Going in the sprinkler was the best part because we were just dancing in basically the rain, and I'm so happy we won,” Heather Dominus, a second-year science student, said. 

The water in the reflecting pool that USC students see every day was barely visible among the sea of garnet and black, but its fountain served as a beacon. 

“I sat right on top of the fountain,” Sam Wilkins, a third-year exchange student from England, said. “It was like a bidet from Hell.”

Students said they were both nervous and excited while watching the final seconds of the game.

Holly O’Keefe, a fourth-year international business management student, said she went to every single women’s basketball game this year. She said this game was “unbelievable.”

“I knew that three-pointers were going to be an issue going in. We're not great at defending them. But the way that Tessa Johnson (and) Raven Johnson were able to lock her down. Unbelievable game,” O’Keefe said. “Camilla — defense and offense — lights out. I'm just blown away.”

Students looked to the future and made plans to jump in the fountain in future years.

“Jump next year, then the year after that and then the year after that. Our kids are going to jump in after that,” second-year early childhood education student Lana Blue said.

Editor's Note: Hayden Davis, Olivia Helfen and Carrigan Woodson contributed to the reporting.


Comments

Թϱ

Send a Tip Get Our Email Editions