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Events planned for Wichita State fans in Atlanta

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, April 4, 2013, at 1:29 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, August 25, 2013, at 9:02 a.m.

— Shocker fans traveling to Atlanta to watch the team in the Final Four will have plenty of chances to flock together, starting with a big pep rally featuring a free lunch on Saturday.

Wichita State University Alumni Association president Debbie Kennedy has put together a pep rally/fan gathering, scheduled from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. It will be in Room C3 of the Georgia World Congress Center, which is a conference center beside the Georgia Dome. The Shockers play at 5 p.m. Saturday against Louisville.

It will feature performances by the Shocker Sound pep band and cheerleaders, speeches from WSU officials such as president John Bardo, and a free lunch provided by sponsors Koch Industries and Georgia Pacific. Kennedy also has invited former Shocker basketball players to attend the event and said she expects that many will.

Fans also are invited to gather throughout the tournament at two Atlanta restaurants, designated by the NCAA as official Shocker fan gathering places. The restaurants, which will be decorated with Shocker paraphernalia, are Taco Mac Sports Grill at 573 Main St. NE and Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery at 320 Peachtree St. NE. Fans who don’t have tickets to the games also can watch them there.

Kennedy, who said it has been a major education figuring out how a large event such as the Final Four operates, said she and her staff have been busy all week preparing for departure. Three planes full of Shocker fans will depart Wichita on Friday at 6 a.m., 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The planes will carry about 700 fans total.

WSU has distributed its entire allotment of tickets, Kennedy said, which totals more than 3,000. The majority of the fans will be staying at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta, the same hotel where the team is staying, Kennedy said.

Kennedy said that her staff has had special T-shirts made. On the front, they read, “We belong.” On the back: “We wear basketball shoes, not glass slippers.”

The staff will accept donations for the T-shirts. They also will distribute rubber bracelets that read “Play Angry.”

Kennedy said she also is in the beginning stages of planning a big team sendoff party for Monday, should the Shockers make it to the final game.

Follow Denise Neil on Twitter at @deniseneil.

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