NORFOLK, Va. — Excitement is building on campus as the Norfolk State University Spartans take the national stage Thursday in the NCAA tournament in Indianapolis.
Deanna Fitzgerald is the student manager for school’s women’s basketball team. She says she been calling her parents “every day” in recent days leading up to the tournament.
“Pretty confident that they’ll win. Like, there’s no other choice, really. They are going to win."
The men’s basketball team faced the Appalachian State Mountaineers in the first round.
The university is hosting a virtual pep rally, and members of the women’s basketball team will be cheering them on from the arena at home.
“To the boys, I hope they come on top and win because… we can do it,” said freshman Makoye Diawara.
One of the biggest fans not in the stands tonight is Mykisha Chavis.
Her son Keyonze Chavis is number 55. The Chesapeake native walked onto the team his freshman year with a full scholarship. Now in his senior year, Mom couldn’t be more proud of what he’s accomplished.
“When they win tonight, I will be flying to Indiana,” she said.
Some had words of advice.
“Play some defense. That’s all I’ve got to say,” said Diawara.
Others had words of encouragement.
“Congratulations on making it this far. I know you guys will do well, and continue the hard work and keep pushing yourself,” said Fitzgerald.
But ultimately, they knew the team would speak for themselves.
“He [Keyonze] was just like, ‘We’re going to step out on the floor tonight as a team, and we’re going to win for the hometown,’” said Mykisha Chavis.
And speak for themselves, they did. The Spartans held off a late surge from Appalachian State in the First Four, winning 54-53. They'll now face Gonzaga in the First Round.