Fill Gill Coliseum with some 8,280 people, mostly schoolchildren from as far away as Hillsboro. Add a basketball game featuring the Oregon State University women's team putting on a high-scoring display.

Then toss T-shirts into the stands.

And cover your ears. 

"I'm already deaf, and it's the second quarter," said Emily Helpenstell, a fifth-grade teacher at Philomath Elementary School.

That entire school came to the game Wednesday, the annual Beavers Beyond the Classroom game. The people in attendance marked the third-largest crowd ever to see an OSU women's basketball game.  

The assembled crowd saw the Beavers romp to an 84-36 victory over outmatched Savannah State University from Georgia. 

Beyond the noise, the game was filled with other cute moments, such as a group of boys pooling pocket money to buy snacks or a group of Central Linn Elementary School students surrounding a cheerleader to ask her to sign their handmade Beavers posters (naturally, she obliged warmly).

Scott Rueck, the Oregon State women’s basketball head coach, said the event was a blast.

"Nothing but fun walking out there," he said. "Our support staff, marketing, everybody, it was all hands on deck to make this thing happen today. I heard it was the third largest crowd in the history in our program and that takes a lot of people doing a lot of things, including a lot of administrators from a lot of school districts allowing their kids to come out today and be a part of this. And to partner with them to put on such a really fun, positive event was incredible. I’m very thankful for everybody involved and all their efforts."

Helpenstell, the Philomath fifth-grade teacher, noted that the event served another purpose as well.

She said although Philomath is close to OSU’s campus, there are still students who have never been to it, and the visit helps expose kids to what it’s like to be on a college campus. She said the Philomath students planned to walk around campus a bit after the game. She said seeing beautiful buildings on campus like Weatherford Hall can inspire kids to go to college.

“It’s like ‘if you go to college, you can live there,’” Helpenstell said.

Petra Hernandez, a Philomath Elementary fifth-grader, said she’s a Beavers fan and gets to go to about one game a year. She said getting to go Wednesday was exciting.

“We don’t have to go to school part of a day, and we get to see the Beavers play!” she said.

Petra said seeing Beaver games did make her more interested in going to college at OSU.

“I like to do sports, and it has a lot of good sports and a good education,” she said.

Trent Hull, who coaches youth basketball in Philomath, was part of a group that came from the Monroe School District that included all its fifth- through eighth-graders. Hull sat with some of the boys he coaches, and he said it was informative for them, because OSU is such a great passing team and the kids got to see a full-court press in action.

Hull added that OSU is a family-friendly university. His son, he said, has attended sports camps and plans to attend engineering camps at the university.

“I think this is really good exposure for them,” he said.



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