Nov. 3, 2005
Fall sports enthusiasm grows -- so keep it up
By Matt Meyerhofer
The Santa Clara
A solid block of red and white shirts. The roar of incessant chanting: "S... C... U! S... C... U!" The merciless heckling. A crowd of students erupting in victory cheers when the game ends in victory. All the sounds you'd expect to hear in the Leavey Center during a game...
Of women's volleyball.
What? Does something seem out of place here? Aren't these supposed to be the images that accompany slam dunks and three-point shots? Something is changing at Santa Clara, and a body of once students typically labeled as apathetic and spiritless students has begun the transformation. A social scene defined by mobs of freshmen wandering around Bellomy Street and a string of weekend day parties has made room for something else.
Of course, this doesn't come entirely out of the blue. Last winter, Santa Clara saw perhaps the most hyped basketball season in a decade. At least some of the interest has come to roost in the Leavey Center during volleyball games this season because last winter, students discovered how much fun athletic events can be.
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As the season moves into its final month, Santa Clara students owe it to themselves to make it over to the Leavey Center to watch the few games that remain. It is a common (and perhaps legitimate) lament that there isn't much to do on weekend nights at Santa Clara once you get tired of the traditional party-circuit. It's also a common gripe that Santa Clara doesn't have enough school spirit. But the quality of fall sports here is giving students a unique opportunity among schools that don't support a football team.
And that extends beyond women's volleyball. While soccer games at Buck Shaw Stadium may not create the same enthusiasm that one feels in the Leavey Center, cheering for our soccer teams, both ranked among the top five in the country, rarely disappoints. It's easy to get enthused about another successful team, men's water polo, currently ranked No. 17 in the nation.
Of course, some skepticism stands in the way. Even at schools with reputedly more spirit, volleyball, soccer, and water polo don't tend to draw crowds. But what Santa Clara will get out of its sports is a matter of what it puts in.
Club presidents Mike Zozos and Ross Nelson deserve an enormous amount of credit for energizing the Ruff Riders organization. But, school spirit -- that elusive sensation that is so easily felt and so impossibly held onto -- is not going to be maintained by that organization, no matter how well it's run. School spirit at Santa Clara is going to take up permanent residence only when students take an active interest in supporting their teams.
The good news is that right now--more so than any other time in the four years I have spent here-- it looks like genuine interest might be in the making. The energy behind the crowds at volleyball games seems to be made of the same stuff that gripped students last year during the basketball team's roller coaster ride of a season. And if students make the decision to embrace that spirit, then Santa Clara might finally have found something that will draw the campus together as a genuine community.
But in the mean time, check out a volleyball game. Be obnoxious. Be loud. You'll be in good company. And best of all, you'll know exactly where to find the party.