The family of Hampton guard Heaven Accimeus came with an array of signs Credit: Lois Elfman photo

After nearly two years away from competitive basketball, the Columbia University women’s basketball team came out hot against Hampton University, a prominent HBCU, prevailing 78–56 in last week’s season opener. The loss did not dim the enthusiasm of Hampton supporters, which included alumni as well as family members of some of the players. “Win or lose, it’s great seeing so many alumni come out and support the team,” said Hampton alum Yakik Rumley.

Chelsea Hardy, Hampton class of 2014, is an active alum grateful for the basketball team giving her a great reason to connect with other alumni as well as fellow members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. “We want to cheer them on, especially the women’s team because they don’t always get as much love as the men’s basketball team,” said Hardy. “We want them to feel the love in the crowd.”

Latoya Pressley was at her first college basketball game since graduating from Hampton in 2015. “It feels good to be able to support the team on the road here in my home city,” she said. “To be here at Columbia and see so much support for the team, that’s great.”

The family of Hampton guard Heaven Accimeus, who is from Brooklyn, was out in force with signs cheering on the team, #GoLadyPirates, and encouraging the coach to #PutHeavenIn. “It’s amazing to see her play at home,” said Heaven’s mother, Nicole Accimeus. “We’re very blessed and honored to see her here today.”

Also, in the crowd was New York Assistant Attorney General Stacey Finley, Hampton class of 1992. “It means a lot to see them play because I don’t get to go to Virginia that often,” said Finley. “It’s very nice to have all the alumni come out and support our team.”
Hampton’s coach, David Six, is from Brooklyn. Bringing his team to play in New York in 2019 fulfilled a dream. This time, he wanted the win, and was frustrated after the game. “We’re missing five kids, including our leading scorer,” said Six. “You want to come here
healthy and be able to play. … We had some costly turnovers. We can’t do that.”

Heaven Accimeus played nine minutes. “It means a lot to me to play in my hometown,” she said. “I grew up playing ball in New York. I’ve been to Columbia many times, and I love the challenge.”

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