UNIVERSITY PARK — Talia East jokingly compared the feeling of suspense when sitting in a dunk tank to waiting to be selected for the NCAA tournament.
The senior forward and several of her teammates took turns sitting above the cold water while children and adults tried to dunk them during the Lady Lion Community Carnival on Sunday.
The Bryce Jordan Center floor was full of free activities like ring toss, pumpkin decorating, face painting, a duck pond, a basketball shooting game and lots of carnival food.
Though she hoped the water would be a little warmer, East said she had a great time interacting with some of the families that came out to show support for the team.
“I am loving it,” she said of the carnival. “Families are a huge part of the people who come to our games.”
She relished the opportunity to make the rounds and meet some of her younger fans during the two-hour event, and had fun talking trash to some of the adults who tried to dunk her.
Freshman guard/forward Kaliyah Mitchell also said she had a good time getting out in the community and talking to the fans.
Coach Coquese Washington added events that give the players and the coaches a chance to interact with the fans is a key to getting people out to the Jordan Center for support on game days.
Interacting with fans on a personal level is something she enjoys.
“This is a blast,” she said. “It’s an absolute blast.”
Mitchell echoed those thoughts, saying that as a newer player, the chance to introduce herself to fans and let them know the kind of person she is will allow them to connect more to the team.
Washington added that the team will need the extra support from fans this year with tough nonconference home games against teams like Connecticut, Notre Dame and Texas A&M. She’s hoping community outreach events like the carnival will help draw more people out when the season rolls around.
And getting to see her players take a plunge in the dunk tank was an added perk.
The dunk tank was also a highlight for Penn State student and Lady Lion fan Megan Flood, who came to the carnival to show support.
She stepped up to the line several times and sunk a few players, including East and star guard Maggie Lucas. She added that she’ll never be too old to go to carnivals and have fun.
“I’m a kid at heart,” she said. “I might be a junior in college, but if you tell me to go to a carnival, I’ll probably come.”
Both Washington and Flood said they hope the preseason carnival becomes an annual event.