The University of Miami’s football season kicks off at 8 p.m. on Sept. 1.
But Hurricanes fans can start celebrating Saturday at CanesFest.
This year, for the first time, the event — which centers on football but brings together fans with players and coaches from several Miami sports — will be at the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence and Greentree Field.
“Whenever we can get our fans on campus to interact in a positive environment with our student-athletes, it’s a good thing,” said UM director of track and field/cross country Amy Deem. “Obviously, CanesFest is geared toward football, but it gives families and kids a chance to interact with all our student-athletes, which is positive for all our sports.”
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Assistant track/cross-country coach Damon Griffiths said the Canes will set up mini-hurdles and relay races at Greentree, where the football team has its practices. “It’s fun for both the track athletes and community because we’re kicking off the fall seasons,” he said.
Here are the highlights of the CanesFest events, according to UM’s press office:
• Interactive games for kids, including the use of a baseball radar gun to measure pitch speeds, a timed 40-yard dash competition, and stations for volleyball, golf, track and field, women’s basketball, rowing, and football drills spread throughout the facilities.
• Guided tours of the new facilities, including the new football locker room from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and the training room and weight room from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
• An autograph session with football players (4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and coaches (4:45 p.m. to 6 p.m.). Note that fans may only use the official CanesFest poster to get autographs.
• A photo booth and photo opportunities with mascots Sebastian the Ibis and the Miami Maniac, as well as with former Hurricanes offensive linemen Joaquin Gonzalez, Sherko Haji-Rasouli and K.C. Jones, who will be signing autographs in the Schwartz Center from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m..
• Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta will pose with his trophy in the lobby of the Schwartz Center from 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
• A “Dress-Like-a-Cane” station will allow fans to try on the new football uniforms for 2014.
• A run-through-the smoke station will allow fans to run out of the giant inflated Miami helmet.
• There will also be an interactive area at the Schwartz Center patio with food trucks and UM merchandise for sale.
The UM Sports Hall of Fame, which is adjacent to the Hecht Athletic Center/Schwartz Center on San Amaro Drive, will be open to visitors from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“For fans, to know where we’re going, you have to know where we’ve been,” said Hall of Fame executive director John Routh. “So stop by and see our history and accomplishments over the last 85 years.”