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Gator fans leave Florida spring for chilly NCAA tournament weather

Gator fans travel to Indianapolis for the 2024 NCAA tournament. (Reighan Sheppard/WUFT News)
Gator fans travel to Indianapolis for the 2024 NCAA tournament. (Reighan Sheppard/WUFT News)

Temperatures were a windy 46 degrees in Indianapolis (67 in Gainesville), but that did not stop Florida fans from traveling to cheer on their basketball team.

Five hours ahead of tip off, fans gathered outside Gainbridge Fieldhouse arena to take in the festivities.

Ninth grader Tommy Long was born and briefly raised in Gainesville but relocated to Ohio. He and his father traveled from Columbus to cheer on the Gators. Long and his father walked shoulder to shoulder admiring all the Gator paraphernalia and logo displays.

“It’s pretty amazing because my last Florida game was ten years ago,” Long said. “It’s pretty good being back to watch the Gators play, especially since they’ve been doing good this season.”

Fourth-year Gator student, Shoshanna Halperin, and her sister, Talia Halperin, a newly admitted Gator, traveled with their family to see the Gators play.

Their mother, Diane Halperin, said they hadn’t planned to watch March Madness in person until her youngest daughter, Talia, had a volleyball tournament earlier in the week that turned into a journey of the Midwest.

“After they met us here, we’ve just been traveling the Midwest,” Diane Halperin said. “Now we’re here for the game, here in Indianapolis, and we fly back to Florida this weekend.”

From seasoned alumni to newfound fans, the Gator Nation sticks together, in all types of weather.

Reighan is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing