Fans welcome the National Champion Baylor Bears back to Waco

By George Schroeder | Broadcast Reporter

Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of fans gathered at the Waco Regional Airport to welcome home the Baylor mens basketball team, after the Bears’ Monday night NCAA national championship victory over Gonzaga.

Coming off the plane, the Bears were greeted with cheers and fanfare. A short ceremony was held in front of the crowd, and fans heard from head coach Scott Drew who praised his bears for their victory and their promising future.

“These guys are gonna do a great job representing Baylor University, our city and our state as they get multiple interviews and are put in front of many people in the days to come,” Drew said. “They will be the first Baylor team to win a basketball national championship.”

Notable figures attended the ceremony along with the fans. Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone and Athletic Director Mack Rhoades welcomed the Bears, and Waco mayor Dillon Meek gave the team a key to the city. Meek said the team embodied the characteristics of Waco.

“This is a city of champions, sometimes we’re down, but we persevere with excellence, integrity, character, and that is what you’ve done,” Meek said. “You’ve represented our city well, and what Waco is about, and where we are going.”

Many of the players also spoke, then took pictures and signed autographs for the fans in attendance. Junior guard/forward, Matthew Mayer, said he was grateful for the support the team received throughout the season.

“This has been such a special year to experience this with all these guys, and my boy Jackson, and we love y’all and thank you for all your support,” Mayer said.

The team will be celebrated again next Tuesday at 6 p.m. with a parade through downtown Waco, followed by a ceremony to honor the new national champions at 6:30 p.m. outside of city hall.

George Schroeder is a senior at Baylor University majoring in journalism. Currently the only student on his 4th year with the Lariat, he is the executive producer for Lariat TV News, he has worked as the managing editor, a broadcast reporter and an anchor for the program. In 2022 he was named the Baylor Department of Student Media’s “Broadcaster of the Year” and the inaugural winner of the Rick Bradfield Award for Breaking News Coverage. During his time with the Lariat, he has served as a member of the Editorial Board, a sportswriter and an opinion writer. He is a contracted cadet in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and will commission as an officer into the United States Air Force after graduation in 2024.