Athletes Pumped Up By Big Crowds

Oct. 20, 2005

By Mike Zozos

When that 10-year college reunion rolls around and you begin to reminisce about your time spent on the Mission Campus, what memories will rush back into your head? For me, it will be the fun and excitement that surrounded Santa Clara athletics.

I will think back and recall the time I sat in The Bronco with 300 other Santa Clara students and faculty watching our women's soccer team defeat North Carolina in the College Cup. I'll think of my freshman year and "Disorder at the Border" where over a hundred fellow Ruff Riders and I traveled to San Diego for the WCC Basketball Championships. Walk-off home runs at Schott and game-winning buzzer beaters in Leavey will all be on my list...will they be on yours?

School spirit is on the rise at Santa Clara. We are no longer regarded as a "small school," but as an athletic powerhouse. Be proud to be a Bronco! Now, more than ever, is the time to get involved.

Men's water polo head coach Keith Wilbur, after their victory over No. 10 Pacific, said that his team was "inspired" by the Ruff Riders, that it was the fan support that "pushed them over the top." Women's soccer head coach Jerry Smith has mentioned that his team runs faster, gets to the ball quicker and plays with even more motivation when the crowd gets into a game. In his graduate thesis, men's basketball head coach Dick Davey concluded that great fan support leads to a 7.2 points per game advantage in college basketball. The coaches have made it clear: Ruff Riders can play an integral role in a team's success.

Our athletics department is tops in the WCC after winning the Commissioner's Cup, which is awarded to the best athletic program in the conference. Sports Illustrated just ranked our athletics No. 14 in the nation for fall sports programs. With four teams in the Top 25 nationally and an overall winning percentage close to .800, our teams deserve students' support.

Ruff Riders can and do make a difference. You don't have to paint your face to be a great fan -- simply coming to games and supporting the teams will make an impact. Try something new this year like cheering women's water polo from the pool deck or being a "heckler on the hill" for the tennis teams. Why not start with attending the Ruff Riders free barbecue this Saturday afternoon at Alumni Park or the Bronco Bash on Oct. 29 in Leavey? Get out there and solidify home-field advantage for our teams and have a blast doing it! Are you proud to be a Bronco? I am.

Mike Zozos is co-president of the Ruff Riders. Contact him at MZozos@scu.edu.