UAFS Announces that the Toy Toss is BACK!

Nov 3, 2023 | News & Events

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is reviving a fan-favorite tradition with the return of the original Toy Toss. Set to take place at the Stubblefield Center on Tuesday, Nov.21, the nearly 15-year-old activity returns thanks to head men’s basketball coach Zane Gibson and Student Activities and Civic Engagement coordinator Dyllan Newell.

“When I got to UAFS as an undergraduate in 2018, I was so excited to participate in the toy toss I remembered going to as a kid,” Newell said. Unfortunately, the event was on a hiatus, but Newell pushed to bring the event back. “After graduation, I landed a job as the coordinator of Student Activities and Civic Engagement. Around the same time, coach Gibson had taken over the men’s basketball team. He shared the same passion for bringing back the Toy Toss.”

At 4:30 p.m., Newell and the Numa Nation registered student organization will host a Toy Toss Tail Gate with food, games, and a lively toy toss contest to crown the fan with the most impressive throw. All are welcome to attend the tailgate before the women’s game.

Action on the court will begin with the women’s basketball team facing off against local rivals Arkansas Tech at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men’s basketball team taking on Ecclesia College at 7:30 p.m. Fans will receive free admission to both games with their new or gently used plush toy.

Gibson said he was “fired up” that the Toy Toss is returning.

“When I arrived in 2016 as an assistant coach, this was a staple of the program,” Gibson said. “The Toy Toss game was a fan favorite, a campus favorite, and a team favorite. We would fill the Stubblefield Center with a ton of people and lots of toys. If you only attended one game all year, you didn’t miss the Toy Toss game because the event is more than just a game. To collect toys and give back to the River Valley for kids who don’t have a Christmas is bigger than the final score of the game that night.”

Women’s basketball coach Ryan McAdams also is delighted to participate in the evening.

“We couldn’t be more excited to tip off against an in-state rival for the first time in program history to get the night started!” he said. “The Toy Toss will have a tremendous impact on the Fort Smith community by providing toys to children in need during the holiday season, and we look forward to this great tradition coming back stronger than ever.”

Immediately after the Lions score their first point against Ecclesia, attendees are encouraged to throw their soft plush toys onto the court. Once the court is covered in plush toys, members of the Fort Smith Boys and Girls Clubs, the UAFS Cheer team, and the UAFS Women’s basketball team will swiftly clear the court, ensuring minimal disruption to the game.

The spectacle is an incredible moment of joy and chaos that has delighted generations of Lions fans since its inception in 2010. It has been featured across the state and landed UAFS on ESPN.

All toys collected from the event will be donated to the Fort Smith Salvation Army, Fort Smith Boys & Girls Clubs, and Ronald McDonald House Charities Fort Smith. Local schools also are invited to join in the charitable spirit, with a traveling trophy going to the school that amasses the most toys ahead of the game.

The United Way of Fort Smith Area will also be partnering with the university to collect toys from local businesses for the event. “This event gifts a little Christmas cheer to the families in need within our community,” said Reagan Newell, UWFSA community impact coordinator. “The university is a wonderful partner the United Way of Fort Smith Area and its partner agencies with staff, faculty, and students who have a passion for giving back.  Together we can truly make a positive impact in our community.”

Those unable to attend the game may leave toys at the following locations:

  • Carnall Elementary School
  • Harvest Time Academy
  • Bonneville Elementary School
  • Southside High School Spanish Honors Society
  • UAFS Office of Campus & Community Engagement
  • Arvest Tower
  • ArcBest


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