After the buzzer: Go behind the scenes at a Bramlage Coliseum cleanup

As students and fans alike battle to get out of Bramlage Coliseum after basketball games, a few people linger. These individuals are equipped for the task of clearing out what gets left behind. (Sierra Staatz | Collegian Media Group)

After the exciting win on Saturday night, basketball fans fought the biting wind to get back to their homes. Meanwhile, a few people lingered on in Bramlage Coliseum, and some were entering even as the massive crowds were leaving.

But what would be left at Bramlage? Frankly, a mess.

Luckily, a few brave volunteers are prepared for the task of clearing out what gets left behind.

Vern Henricks, coordinator for the basketball cleanup crew and president of the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, ensures that all parts of the stadium are attended to.

To make sure all goes well, the stadium cleaners arrive two hours after the game begins. This time, that also meant witnessing the final moments of the 66-60 win against the Baylor University Bears.

Once the crowd leaves, groups gather around Henricks as he begins to make announcements to the volunteers, starting with Reserve Officer Training Corps.

“You guys have done this before, so you know the routine,” Henricks said. Generally, over a dozen students from ROTC come to work the stadium cleanup.

The student section is the most tedious to clean, with newspaper clippings littering the seats and floor. With ROTC’s prior experience, the project is completed in an efficient manner.

Henricks was also sure to give effective instructions to those who come on an irregular basis from various student-run organizations. Each of these students takes their own section.

Once the volunteers have been assigned a section, they grab sturdy trash bags to pick up various large containers, generally cups, water bottles, popcorn bags and napkins.

“If there’s liquid in the cups, don’t worry about them,” Henricks instructed. “We will have guys to dump them out. Just put them on the aisles, and we will do the rest.”

Next, students sweep the seats. In the student section, mostly newspaper is swept up. For the rest, it is excess popcorn. This is the most tedious portion of the project, but also gives the students a simple enough task to entertain themselves with music or podcasts.

Finally, once the seats are swept, the mopping begins.p

Throughout the process, volunteers have learned how to make the experience more enjoyable and sociable. For example, two cleaners may mop with each other, where one person completes the odd rows while their neighbor completes the even.

“It’s about the community,” Evan Heronemus, senior in civil engineering, said. “It can bond people together, doing something for the organization they are a part of.”