River Rivals to Battle for Paddle

Media outlets are invited to cover the USC Aiken vs. Augusta University basketball games Wednesday, Jan. 24, in the USC Aiken Convocation Center. The women's game tips off at 5:30 p.m., and the men's game starts at 7:30.

AIKEN, SC (01/23/2018) The University of South Carolina Aiken Pacers will take on the Augusta University Jaguars, Jan. 24 - not only on the basketball court but in the stands, too.

Pacer fans and students are encouraged to where white to the game, creating a "white out" in the arena. The first 40 USC Aiken students to arrive will receive a white-out t-shirt, and the first 100 students per game will get a spirit paddle, which they can decorate before the game.

"It has been a long time since we have last had a game between USC Aiken and Augusta University. Now that we have all had a chance to begin to settle into a routine again, I am excited to once again reignite the rivalry between our two schools," said Jacob Yarbrough, USC Aiken student body president.

"I am ready to feel the energy pulsate though the arena and hear our students cheer on our Pacers. Most importantly, I am ready to inch closer to securing that paddle and have bragging rights for a whole year!"

At stake during the annual basketball contests: not only winning the games but also the "trophy" that goes along with it.

The growing rivalry heats up this season with the inaugural Battle for the Paddle contest, implemented last fall. Student government leaders from both institutions teamed up to create a friendly competition between USC Aiken and Augusta University. Presidents Yarbrough from USC Aiken and LeDarius Scott from Augusta University signed a proclamation, officially initiating this unique aspect of the historic rivalry, which students hope will become a storied tradition.

"This is a great idea and way to enhance the rivalry with a creative approach that inspires competition, increases interest in our athletic events and celebrates our student-athletes who work so hard," said Kim Jergenson, student coordinator of Pacer Fanatics.

She says Pacer Fanatics is the organization on campus charged with "creating unity between our athletes and other students; increasing attendance at games; and fostering an exciting environment."

As part of the Battle for the Paddle competition, points will be awarded based on which university wins the sports competitions throughout the academic year. In the event of a tie, the institution which collects the most blood during the annual Hoops for Heroes each spring will claim the paddle.

Currently, USC Aiken is leading the paddle series and hopes to retain that lead after what promises to be two exciting basketball games.

The university which wins the battle for the year, earns bragging rights and the paddle, which will be displayed on campus. In addition, the losing institution's student body president must make a congratulatory video, which will be aired on the winner's campus, across the Savannah River.

"Augusta University always brings a lot of students to the games. We want to drown them out and show our uniformity, support and solidarity," Jergenson said.

For media credentials, contact brenth@usca.edu.