“Screamin’ Seahawks” keep loud for athletic events

Noah Thomas | Sports Editor

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By the time UNC Wilmington’s first exhibition basketball game tipped off last November, the crowd at Trask Coliseum could be described, at best, as mediocre.

It wasn’t until about mid-January, when UNCW affirmed itself as a power in the Colonial Athletic Association, that the crowds began to grow larger and more consistent on a game-to-game basis. 

One constant presence — from the sound of the initial buzzer in the first weeks of the season to the final 30-foot shot made by Denzel Ingram against Duke in the NCAA Tournament — was the Screamin’ Seahawks, UNCW’s official student-led spirit section.

The Screamin’ Seahawks can be found in Trask Coliseum, at court’s end, gathered in the bleachers situated behind one of the goal posts. As the name would suggest, they are usually screaming, covered head-to-toe in teal, and waving cut-out heads of various sports celebrities (including UNCW’s own Head Coach Kevin Keatts).

They are led by President Ashby Burton and, along with more than a half-dozen other officers, have one goal: to unify all UNCW students who are passionate about the school and athletics.

Although it’s technically an organization that can be officially “joined” by students, Burton said if you’re a student at UNCW, you are considered a Screamin’ Seahawk — formally joining the club is not required.

“It is important for us to have people realize that it’s a student-run organization,” said Burton, who is entering his second year as president. “Our officers put in hard work to organize events promoting UNCW athletics. We want to be a name known to the college athletics community for our incredible school spirit.”

Thus far, basketball has admittedly received the most love from the group. Burton said one of his main goals is to have all major sports receive the same amount of support that basketball has gotten in the past.

“We want students to understand that other sports are just as exciting and all of the student-athletes deserve the same amount of support,” he said, also noting that if students want to have a great fan experience outside Trask Coliseum, they should head next door to Hanover Hall.

“The atmosphere of a volleyball game in Hanover Hall is honestly one of the best on campus. I encourage all students to start coming out early and join the fun.”

UNCW students who join the Screamin’ Seahawks have the added opportunity to make memories that will resonate for years, including the possibility of being part of historic moments in the school’s athletic history.

“My favorite memory would have to be traveling to Baltimore with Vice President Cody Critcher to watch men’s basketball win the conference championship this past year and earn their way into the NCAA Tournament,” Burton said. “The excitement when UNCW cut down the nets that night is something I will never forget.”

Theresa Teggi, a senior who was described by Burton as a dedicated member of the organization, said making new friends counted among her favorite memories as a Screamin’ Seahawk.

“One of my favorite memories would be watching and learning new sports from the sidelines with new friends,” Teggi said. “I got to experience new sports I had not usually watched on my own and really found an interest in some of them.”

In the days after UNCW won the 2016 CAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, many were requesting that the school’s administration cancel classes for the Seahawks’ first-round NCAA Tournament game. A petition began making its way around campus to help gain traction for the cause.

Screamin’ Seahawks Vice President Tyler Cox was the individual responsible for that petition. It gained more than 3,000 signatures in just three days, but Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli opted to keep classes on schedule, citing “The significant disruption it would cause (with nearly half the student body missing over 300 classes), and in keeping with the academic mission of the institution.”

Those who are interested in joining the Screamin’ Seahawks can follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @ScreaminCHawks or email screaminseahawks@gmail.com.