NEW YORK—The Francis Levien Gymnasium was filled with its first cheers of the 2017-18 academic year as Columbia Athletics welcomed back more than 800 student-athletes at its annual student-athlete welcome reception on Monday evening.


Surrounded by coaches, staff and administrators from the Columbia athletics department, student-athletes from each of Columbia’s 31 varsity programs filed into Levien Gymnasium for a night of fun as they celebrated the pride of being a Columbia Lion. The event began promptly at 7 p.m. as several student-athletes strolled into the gymnasium and proceeded to the dance floor to show off their dance moves. Each student-athlete was given a black t-shirt featuring the words “Lion Pride.”


Men’s Basketball’s Nate Hickman and lacrosse player Kathryn Cavallo served as program hosts. The duo started the event with introductions and facts about Columbia and its student-athletes. That was followed by a high-energy percussion band and dance performance by the Marching Cobras. The Marching Cobras also welcomed student-athletes to the event as they arrived at Dodge Physical Fitness Center.


Next, was a trivia contest featuring five student-athletes from the audience. All five student-athletes correctly answered their respective questions and were rewarded with Roar-ee the Lion replica dolls.


Campbell Family Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education Peter Pilling welcomed the student-athletes to Columbia and shared the excitement of the entire athletic department for the year ahead. When he took the microphone, he opened up his jacket and underneath was light-up Columbia Lion t-shirt.


Next, Columbia’s fight song, “Roar, Lion Roar” was played as all 800-plus student-athletes joined in the singing. Prior to the evening, each student-athlete was e-mailed the lyrics to the fight song.


“The purpose of the event is to welcome back all of our student-athletes, welcome our new first-year student-athletes and create excitement for the upcoming year,” Associate Athletic Director for Enrichment Services Jessica De Palo said. “The idea is to have a community gathering and to celebrate the year that lies ahead. We have such great student-athletes here at Columbia and to see all 800-plus wearing the same t-shirt at the same event sends the message that we’re all in this together.”


With the night nearing its end, student-athletes headed outside to the lawn to share in one final dinner as an entire athletics department before the 2017-18 academic year began, sharing with each other stories, memories and experiences of being Lions. Carmines was the sponsor of the dinner.