You only get what you give: the sports experience at UNCW

James Edmonds | Staff Writer

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I was on the campus of Duke University a couple of weeks ago with a few other students from “The Dub.” We witnessed the huge cluster of tents, known as Krzyzewskiville, filled with students lined up weeks in advance for UNC vs Duke basketball tickets. We were awed by the dedication of the students staying in those tents despite the freezing rain that was coming down that day. On our way back, one UNCW student made the comment, “That’s what we traded for being close to the beach.” Essentially, she was saying that any student who chooses to attend UNCW is missing out on any sort of fun, fanatical school athletics experience.

                  I disagree. I’ve been in a packed Neyland Stadium, the University of Tennessee’s pride and joy,  wearing ridiculously bright orange and singing “Rocky Top” every five minutes as the Vols torched in-state rival Vanderbilt, but I’ve had even better moments at UNCW. My freshman year, I and an entire floor of Galloway, sang the “ole ole ole” soccer song at multiple points throughout a soccer match and had a blast during the game, both socializing and cheering on the Seahawks. Once, during this soccer season, I was feeling a little more boisterous and was standing at the fence and heckling any opposing players in the vicinity. I told one that he was “a little pansy (expletive)” and he turned his head over to look directly at me while laughing it off. It was a quality moment that really wouldn’t happen at a huge sporting event at a bigger program.

                  That sort of heckling behavior probably isn’t supported by the school, or the athletic department, and I won’t say that it’s the best way to have fun at school sporting events. The point is that there is a level of personal interaction with athletes at our school that students at bigger schools don’t have. Our athletes are still down-to-earth human beings, rather than rock stars or future draft picks biding their time. That makes our athletic events fun in a more intimate way. We get to cheer on our friends and fellow students, or have our heckling heard by the fairly amicable opposition.

                  The students who would prefer being members of a loud, out-of-control student section at every home game are afforded a unique opportunity. The fanatical culture at Cameron Indoor had to be started by someone, “Rocky Top” wouldn’t be played and sung every five minutes at Neyland Stadium if an overzealous student band director hadn’t made it so in the 70’s, and our own fanatical culture won’t take off without students at UNCW deciding to make it happen. There are already a handful of student, and non-student, fans who bring enough zeal to each game to make us question their sanity. They are trying to establish a fanatical culture at UNCW, and we all have the opportunity to be part of establishing that culture.

                  If a fanatical sports experience is something you want out of college, you should put in the effort required to make that happen. Make yourself look a little bit ridiculous at the next sporting event you attend and have a blast while you do it. Bring some friends along who are willing to look every bit as ridiculous. Come out to a soccer game, stand at the fence and heckle to your heart’s content. Whatever it is you do, don’t complain about the lack of school spirit at UNCW if you’ve never been to a Seahawk sporting event. As with everything else in life, so it is with Seahawk sports: you only get what you give.