By Erica Fugger
The very nature of our school’s name conjures expectations of communal support for all facets on campus. Union fosters this sense of community, allowing for such occurrences as an expansive hockey fan base.
Yet, college, in general terms, creates the opportunity for each individual to choose which activities will occupy any given day. Bearing this in mind, at a school that prides itself on the diversity of the opportunities it offers, creating the notion that attending an athletic competition is more fulfilling than simply finding a ‘proper investment of one’s time’ is quite a feat in and of itself.
How well does this work at Union? In the Athletic Department, Assistant Athletic and Sports Information Director Eric McDowell’s seeks to create alternative means of support for Union Athletics by finding opportunities to recognize the academic endeavors of the athletes, in addition to interacting with the team members through the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC).
For the teams and the greater college community, SAAC plays an increasingly important role in the creation of student support for athletics. SAAC President Patrick Petty of the Men’s Cross Country Team stated the organization’s intention to improve team relations, enhance associations between the athletes and the school, and seek to advance Union itself.
SAAC Secretary Clarissa Odence of the Women’s Track and Field Team emphasized the improved relations between the sports teams through their involvement in inter-athletic team competitions, game attendance, and helping each other with fundraising initiatives. Campuswide support is also encouraged through the turnout for SAAC-sponsored charity events.
These measures should be applauded for their recent improvements in Union’s sense of community and athletic awareness. But in light of such wonderful initiatives, what is the current condition of team support at Union and what can be done to seek further improvement?
In truth, not all athletic teams garner the same amount of support from the Union community. While Union prides itself on frequent NCAA participation, the stands of the lesser known, yet highly competitive, teams are not as highly frequented as those of the more widely recognized sports. Crowds of screaming fans have certainly enhanced the successes in the realm of hockey; it seems important to do the same for each team of Union Athletics.
Fittingly, school spirit and communal support have often frequented our school’s past. McDowell recalled this aspect of Union College’s history through images featuring students stopping to watch a game on their way to class. And fortunately, Union’s athletic venues are still in close proximity and certainly easily accessible.
What can remedy such discrepancies in support? Associate Athletic Director, Beth Taimi, put it simply: “Attend an event.” It is as easy as that.
So, when you have an extra afternoon of leisure after classes are done for the day, enjoy the sunshine and support your classmate and friends, the student-athletes on each of the athletic teams. Not only will you aid in the enhancement the team’s morale, you will also be helping to foster the unity that so aptly categorizes Union.