Roane State seeks to ‘Pack the Gym’ for season basketball openers

“Pack the Gym!”

That’s the unofficial battle cry in a first-ever bid to raise awareness and enthusiasm for the upcoming basketball season at Roane State Community College.

Officials are hoping for a large attendance for the season opener for the Roane State Raiders and the second home game for the Lady Raiders on Wednesday, Nov. 13, in the gymnasium on the college’s Roane County campus.

Tipoff for the women’s contest – with the Lady Raiders and new women’s coach Dave Harnish facing off against Motlow State Community College – is at 5:30 p.m.

Harnish’s squad is strong, Nesbit said, “but short in roster numbers.” Harnish “is starting to put his coaching and recruiting expertise into play to make up for lost time with our coaching transition,” he said.

The Raiders face defending league champions Motlow State at 7:30 p.m. Roane State will be playing their first conference opponent since last years’ conference tournament championship game, “where the Raiders fell just short of winning in their bid to go to the NJCAA National Tournament for the first time in school history,” Nesbit said.

Nesbit said the gym can hold about 1,300 spectators. He said he’s upbeat about the Raiders’ prospects this season and wants fans to turn out to show their support. “We’ve never promoted much before,” Nesbit said.

As for the inaugural “Pack the Gym!” event, Nesbit said it’s his brainchild. “I’m the only one dumb enough to try it, but if I didn’t think we had a strong men’s team this year, I wouldn’t be doing this,” he said.

Nesbit said the hiring of the college’s first athletics assistant, Scott Witt, has allowed the athletics department “to expand our marketing and promotions efforts. We’ve never had the resources of personnel, time or money to promote much in the past, but our recruiting success definitely warrants using these new resources.”

A billboard on Interstate 40 is drawing attention to the “Pack the Gym” event and a second billboard will be going up soon, Nesbit said. He said proceeds from the athletic department’s summertime basketball camp, youth tournaments and other fundraising efforts are paying for that advertising.

For those concerned about missing Wednesday night church services, Minister Neil Crass from Big Emory Baptist Church in Harriman will lead a short service in the Raider Room behind the school cafeteria that night. Nesbit will also speak briefly. Services will be from about 6:50 to 7:20 p.m., depending on when the Lady Raiders’ game ends.

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has campuses in Crossville, Harriman, Huntsville, Jamestown, Knoxville, LaFollette, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge, Wartburg and Clinton.

For more information, visit or call (865) 882-4554.

Remember, eligible adults can now attend Roane State tuition-free with the new Reconnect grant. Learn more at

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