Over the years, I’ve seen a number of alums and season ticket holders complain about the athletic department’s inability to get the student body enthused about Duquesne sports. I’ve countered by shouldering student life, general student apathy and the overall poor results with the blame. Regardless of your explaination, it’s pretty clear that something was missing.
So far this fall, I’ve noticed a drastic change. The athletic department has partnered with student life for the first time that I can recall. and we’ve seen immediate results. It started with a freshman orientation pep rally. The class of 2017 filled the stands at Rooney Field and attended the football game against Albany in strong numbers. Student government has teamed with the athletic department to raise school spirit and reduce the amount non – Duquesne college gear worn on campus. The SPIRIT campaign kicked off last week and will revolve around a trade in program where students can exchange t-shirts from other schools for Duquesne gear. I’ve often said that a Duquesne win in the City Game would draw the line in the sand for Duquesne people who support Pitt. SPIRIT might help expedite the process. First Friday’s are now red and blue days on campus and a three on three basketball tournament sponsored by the basketball team will take place later this month.
Students are stepping up too. The normally neglected men’s soccer program now has a cheering section. The Rooney’s Gooneys were founded over the summer and while their numbers are small, they’ve had a noticeable presence at games. The Red and Blue Crew held a pair of well attended organizational meetings. They might take steps forward in 2013 – 14 and seem to be functioning better as an organization.
Questions remain about whether or not the new marriage between the athletic department and student life will translate to more school spirit and better attendance. I have to give them credit for thinking outside the box especially assistant director of marketing and promotions, Nicole Bucholtz. She has infused creativity into the department I haven’t seen till now.
Now, it’s time for us as alums to help get our peers more involved. If the school and students are doing their part to get students to games, we need to start the ever valuable word of mouth advertising and get graduates out. Don’t just write a check and think you’ve done enough. I encourage you to bring an old roommate, fraternity brother or someone you’ve met since with Duquesne ties to a home game and not just the City Game or St Louis. Bring them to a game where Duquesne is the draw or where they at least have a solid chance to not just win but dominate. If you know someone who ditched their season tickets when Ron Everhart got canned, tell them about Jim Ferry and why they can get excited about him. If you’re young and don’t have enough cash to donate yourself, get someone else to spend money on your behalf. Don’t have any friends to bring to the game? Buy and wear Duquesne gear around town. We can all make First Friday part of our routine.
I can see how someone would complain about the effort of the athletic department and student life to raise school spirit in the past. However, the current work of the pair should quiet the critics for now. The time for whining and finger pointing has passed and we’ve entered a phase of cooperation by everyone. They cannot build a program and a culture of pride alone. Until now, everyone associated with Duquesne could have done more to promote the school and spirit. The athletic department is doing their part. How will you do yours?