School Spirit on the Rise at MU?

When you go to a Division I school, one thing that is expected of the students is to go to home sporting events to show your fan support.

During the fall season, MU is home to four teams that are held here on campus in West Long Branch. If you look up in the stands at any game, you will no­tice a mix of students and people from the community in atten­dance cheering on the Hawks.

Yes, the University is consid­ered a suitcase school for the underclassman, but students still take time out of their day and night to go to home games. Showing fan support at the Uni­versity is a must, and if the visit­ing team comes in here knowing we have the best student sections in the NEC, they will be scared. 

The four teams that have games on campus are football, men’s and women’s soccer and field hockey. Between the four teams, no team ranks lower then fourth in the conference in home at­tendance. People want to go to games at home simply because it is a great place to be and see friends and classmates.

Not only does the attendance at games make the game expe­rience fun for the fans, it also helps the teams play better and get pumped dur­ing big plays.

“Energy level becomes much higher, athletes really appreci­ate them being there whether it’s friends or classmates or if they have no idea who they are, it just gives them a whole other layer of fandom for the students when they come out on campus,” Matt Harmon, a communication professor and sports broadcaster explains.

The school football team is in its 20th season and is doing bet­ter than ever. So far, the Hawks are 2-0 at Kessler Field, as they average just under 3,000 fans per game. Compared to when the team started in 1993, more and more people around the commu­nity have been coming and in­creasing in numbers every year.

“Attendance has gotten better; there has been more interest in it, in almost two decades of having the program, people are aware that Monmouth has football, where in the first couple years a lot of people didn’t know about it,” mentions Harmon.

If there isn’t a football game go­ing on, you could always find the fans under the lights at the Great Lawn. Both the men and women soccer teams play there and fan support is big as you always see the new and the old faces in the crowd.

“They have a very good group of diehard supporters but we want those numbers to grow where we are and keep multiplying,” says Eddy Occhipinti, Assistant Ath­letics Director of Marketing.

The Hawks have the ultimate home field ad­vantage as they are a combined 8-1-2 when play­ing outside of Wilson Hall and with people not so familiar with soccer coming, they can get more students into the sport and in­crease the group of die hards. When the men’s team has been as high as number 19 in the country, it’s no wonder students flock to the games.

A team that many people for­get about here at the University is the field hockey team, which plays at So Sweet a Cat Field. Yes, they are having a rough season, due to their non­conference scheduling, however they are still ranked third in at­tendance in the NEC.

Being able to have two teams nationally ranked in the top ten play at MU this year, was a big boost to get fans to come to the games. “A key to building atten­dance at sports like field hockey and lacrosse is finding the niche markets that we can market to,” Occhipinti stated in regards to marketing the team more. Next time the Hawks are home will be October 19 as they face Bryant.

No matter what athletic event you are at, whether its games or practices, there is a good chance you will see one fan in the stands, and that is President Gaffney.

“We ought to encourage this because I think it does a lot for the general morale on campus, the spirit on campus, gets us con­nected to our alumni, so I try to support athletics whenever I can,” says President Gaffney.

He went on to say, “I want ev­eryone to get something out of it, I think it’s fun, it brings everyone together, and sets a good example for good team spirit.”

Since approximately 12 per­cent of the student body are var­sity athletes, President Gaffney feels that supporting the Hawks is important as it will connect the campus with the community and allow people outside this area know who MU is. He feels that the names on our jerseys are im­portant and we should represent the school as best as we can.

The University’s athletics have been getting bigger each year, big enough for local professional athletes to make appearances at home games. New York Knicks guard JR Smith was spotted at the football home opener against Rhode Island, as four-time Olym­pic Gold medalist Christie Ram­pone was seen at the women’s soccer game Friday night. One player who has yet to be seen this year, but always makes sure he goes to at least one football and basketball game every season is Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Miles Austin. Continue to show your Hawk pride at the next MU game. Who knows who you could be sitting next to as you cheer on the Hawks.