I used to play in front of packed stands. Then I came to Hesston.

Crowd at basketball game. Photo by Jon Voth

By Gina DeFazio

Before I was a Lark, I was a Golden Buffalo, a proud student athlete at Wichita Southeast. Coming from a high school with a pep band playing and cheerleaders leading roaring crowds was an exciting experience for me as a student athlete. I could tell the fans were excited, too.

Being announced, and playing before an arena filled with students, faculty, and administrators in attendance was a joy and great honor for me. I remember fans furiously stomping their feet during the “Buffalo stampede,” which sounded like thunder in the gym.

“Buffalo Bob,” the adopted team mascot, was my high school’s number one super-fan. Bob was a former student-athlete from the class of 1965. He came to every game. It didn’t matter what game it was, or if we were winning or losing; he yelled, cheered us on, called each one of us by name, and frequently led the team in the school’s “Buffalo Creed” on the court following the game. He did it out of pure love. That was remarkable and special to me.

That’s a stark contrast to the fan support at Hesston. At the last home game, while sitting on the player’s bench waiting for my name to be announced, I looked into the stands and saw only three students in the student section. My heart sunk. The announcer, Karl Brubaker, does his best to liven up the game by announcing us, but that’s no substitute for the sights and sounds of cheering fans in the stands.

An empty student section has been a problem all season long, and has been a big disappointment to me. Yost Center has been renovated, has a whole new concession area and a fresh new look, but student fans aren’t showing up to the games.

Sporting events at Hesston College are meant to bring people together. They’re offered to give everyone on campus a chance to let go of the worries of the day, expend some pent up energy, and have fun. When you see stands filled with people cheering on their team or athlete, you know they are gathered together to show their love and support, and to have fun. That’s spirit. There is no more effective way to show your love and support for your fellow student, and Hesston College, than by coming to games. I know it’s not mandatory, like chapel, but you do have to see that there is love and fun involved with coming to games. There would be nothing better than seeing Yost Center filled to capacity with cheering fans having a good time. That would show our school’s true spirit!

You might see a fellow student perform a personal halftime show for fans as seen at a recent women’s game. You might see student athletes do spectacular things in the game. You might meet new friends, or even see students or faculty members do something funny or silly.

You just don’t know what you’ll miss by not getting out and coming to a game. People gathered together at a game have a way of bringing out the best and most unexpected in everyone. But if you don’t come, you don’t have a chance to experience that, whatever that may be.

If you don’t think you have time to go to a game, make time! It’s a crucial part of the college experience. Spending time with others, as I’ve learned from my research for speech class, makes us happier people. What better way than to go to a game and rock the stands with fellow students? If you want to sing together, sing. If you want to chant together, chant. If you want to stomp feet together, stomp. You are in college for only a few years, so make the best of it.

Gather your friends, roommates, and mod mates together, and come to the games in January. Come with a party spirit and party attitude. And, most importantly, have fun! Your fellow students and student-athletes will love you for it.

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