By Dylan Powell, Head Sports Writer
Photos from McKendree University and illinoisouth.org
In sports, some of the most memorable moments for athletes do not just come from the game; they come from the crowd, too. The rush of adrenaline felt running out onto the field or court—being cheered on by hundreds of fans waiting to see you play—brings another level of excitement and energy to the game day experience.
McKendree University was ranked on the Instagram page @BarstoolU for having the best game day vibes in the state of Illinois during the eighth week of the 2021 season. On game days, there are tailgates, great Dance and Cheerleading teams who always bring their best, a Spirit Band who rocks the stadium with music, and plenty of fans.
However, there is one missing factor that has been noticeably lacking for years. Athletes, coaches, and the general student body are regularly made aware that there is not a ‘student section’ for those who want to come together and cheer on the athletic teams.
Whether you’re catching a game on Leemon Field or at the McKendree Metro Rec Plex, you typically will see a lot of students and families, but the students don’t typically sit together in a designated section. They spread out across the area and cheer on the team. It gets loud and full of the energy that athletes and coaches are looking for, but the consensus among that group is that things could be louder and more exciting if the students all came together and sat in an official student section.
Do you remember when you were in high school—or you were at another college or university—and you’d see a large group of students, uniform with a theme that their student organizations would pick out? This is a way to not only represent status and support, but also to help be a key factor in shifting momentum in the direction of the team. Of course, the student section isn’t necessarily on the team, but it can always play a part in this movement to help out the athletes in the most important moments of a game. At every level of sport, from high school to professional, home field advantage plays a huge part in control of the outcome.
Even with the lack of this at McKendree, senior offensive lineman Kenny Thomason believes that it is never too late to bring this culture back onto the scene at Athletic events.
“I would totally agree that we lack a student section here at McKendree,” he says. “When you look at DI schools, most have a student section and it adds a different dimension to the games. I feel like we should try and bring that environment here to McKendree! Even some of the other sports would be involved but I think that it would be awesome to get going. I would love for us to have one because it brings a different element to the games.”
After numerous discussions with peers, classmates, and students from other universities, one of the biggest takeaways from the student section conversation is that there are practically no disadvantages of having one!
“The Pros of having a student section out way any cons in my personal opinion,” says Thomason. “The energy that a student section brings to games is unparalleled even at the professional level.” Thomason also mentioned how few arrangements need to be made for an official section. All it takes is interest, student leadership, and structure.
This is a possibility at McKendree! If you have any questions, or have an interest in being a part of the soon-coming student section at our athletic events, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make this happen. There are some students already invested in getting it started quickly, and we would love to add to this team!