Athletic department looking to increase attendance to fill bleachers

Photo by Sophie Green.

Photo by Sophie Green.

By Christy Ulmet
Historically, the Homecoming basketball game at Trevecca means a packed gym. The student section is overflowing with loud Trojan supporters. 
But by the next week, the stands are back to half-full. 
As Trevecca moves to an NCAA Division II athletic program, the athletic director and a few dedicated students are trying to revive school spirit for Trevecca’s athletes.

Trevecca’s Athletic Director, Mark Elliott, spoke of stories he’d heard of the school’s athletic history. 
Memories of a so-called “Super Trojan,” clad in purple with a cape draped over his back, were told. At a time when sports were the central focus of Trevecca’s campus life, students filled the stands to watch their Trojans aim for victory. Super Trojan used a climbing rope attached to the ceiling as his handle when he jumped off of the balcony at the games to pump up the crowd. He represented school spirit; he was the ultimate fan. 
Alumni tell stories of students clearing their schedule to watch Trevecca take on their rivals. But in recent years, attendance at the school’s games has gone down tremendously, Elliott said.
“There has been an all-around decrease in attendance and enthusiasm in colleges and universities nationwide,” Elliott said. “With so many other things offered on campus these days, sports have taken a backseat to the interest of students. There was once a time when sports were the main focus of Trevecca’s student life.”
Trevecca doesn’t keep records of attendance at sporting events. The athletic department plans to begin using a card scan system similar to the one used in chapel. Students will scan their ID’s as they enter games. This will begin a new incentive program where students can win prizes for the amount of games they attend. 
While the equipment and software has been purchased, the technology on campus is not yet up to speed. Once things are ready to be tested, the software will be used for entrance into the wellness center; this will be a trial run to see how things go, Elliott said.
Elliott hopes to have the system up and running by fall of 2014, if not in the spring. 
Players and coaches appreciate fans and say it is more fun to play when the university community is cheering them on.
“The student section was overflowing and rowdy. The gym got to the point where it was standing room only which is a great atmosphere to play in,” Chris Elliott, a sophomore basketball player said about last year’s Homecoming game. 
Jacob Shackley, Trevecca intramural director, has made it his personal mission to recruit fans for sporting events.
In previous years, he said, there were few students in the student section, but he is hopeful that things are turning around after better attendance at basketball games in the past year.
This year, expect to see cars parked in the grass around the big oak tree next to the Moore Gymnasium with the inspiration of Persephonie Devereaux, senior volleyball player and SGA member, and Ashley Hoffner, senior, heading up tailgating before many of this year’s games.
“This is for the athletes: to let them know that they are loved and that they are supported by the student body. One of SGA’s main goals this year is to focus on inclusiveness throughout the whole community,” Hoffner said. 
By being supportive of each other all around, whether it is in athletics or in other activities, students can become more of a community, Mark Elliott said. With the school moving into NCAA DII, he hopes that the fan base at Trevecca can grow more.
“I’m excited about the future for our fans because I think this group of [sophomores] has a lot of school spirit which is important to pass along to the next freshman class so that they can build upon it for classes to come,” Chris Elliott said.
This article originally appeared in the October 2013 TrevEchoes.
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