Bunko for Basketball makes a comeback

Courtsey of Caitlin Wade

The seventh Bunko for Basketball will return from a three-year hiatus to help fund the Lady Lions basketball program.

Bunko for Basketball will be held Apr. 29 in the Student Union Ballroom from 6 to 9 p.m. PRIDE, Positive Role Models Involved in the Development of Excellence, organized the event. Head Coach Ayla Guzzardo, assistant coaches, players and MCs Deek and Lisa Deblieux will be present to meet attendees.

“Bunko for Basketball allows the community to see our Lady Lions outside the basketball court in an atmosphere that is fun and exciting for our program and the community,” said Guzzardo. “We are holding this fundraiser to provide for our women’s basketball budget and to raise money to financially assist Lady Lions that require 5th year aid.”

The last Bunko was held in 2013. Financial need influenced the decision to adjourn the fundraiser until now.

 “We had six Bunko for Basketball events and we raised $121,000 in six years,” said Patsy Causey, the PRIDE co-chair of Bunko. “We said, well, we have enough money in the development foundation so we’ll just take a little break from Bunko for Basketball. And then, this year, coach Gauff, who was the basketball coach for the Lady Lions, came to one of our meetings and said, ‘I need to raise some money for women’s basketball. Would you, PRIDE, help me to raise the money?’ And we said yes. Suzanne and I agreed to co-chair the committee Bunko for Basketball.”

PRIDE is a mentoring and support group for the Lady Lions basketball team. A percentage of the funds raised will go to scholarships. PRIDE awarded nine scholarships to women basketball players in the past 11 years.

“In 2008, that’s when the coach came to us and said, ‘We’re not graduating many people,’” Causey said. “Players are leaving the university without a degree and would you, PRIDE, consider doing a fundraiser so that we can be sure that every Lady Lion that comes here will leave Southeastern with a degree? And we said yes.”

Bunco is a luck-based, dice game. The fundraiser will also include food, drinks, a raffle, a live auction and silent auction.

“We’ve got a lot of nice auction items,” said Suzanne Oescher, the PRIDE co-chair of Bunko. “We have a nice event, nice food and nice drinks. We have a signature drink that the Crescent’s donating. It’s honeysuckle vodka, lemonade and basil drink. It’s a specialty drink. We’ll call it Lion Up, Go Lions or some sort of thing like that. It should be a lot of fun and Bunko’s a very fun, fast-paced game that everybody loves playing, and it’ll have two rounds of it and we’ll eat in-between and bid.”

Bunko will feature previous Lady Lions returning to their alma mater.

“One of the young women, Nanna Pool who played here as a post, is now playing basketball professionally in Spain, and she’s the leading rebounder in that particular league in Spain,” said Oescher. “So, we’re excited to have Nanna back and Erica Hernandez is coming back and Symone Miller is coming back. I’m sure there are others but I don’t remember the names. And that’s exciting to see these women that we’ve helped support and mentor and people help with fundraising with them to see them you know, doing well in life.”

PRIDE will decide if Bunko will return as an annual event based on the event’s success.

“We always have an evaluation anytime we have an event,” said Causey. “We pull our members together. We’re very close. We have about 35 on our membership list, and we organized, PRIDE did, in 2006, so we’ll pull our members together and determine if we want to have another Bunko for Basketball next year or we don’t.”

Tickets can be purchased online at Eventbrite or from a PRIDE member through Bridget Giaratano at the Dugas Center ahead of time for $40 or $45 at the door.