Falcon Thursday encourages spirit

SPU Athletics seeks to build community

Chris Yang | The Falcon
The Orange Men rally in the SPU Students Section at a home basketball game in Royal Brougham.

Walking up, one sees old red bricks, numerous windows, maroon handrails, doors and a grand staircase leading to the main event. Inside, the walls are plastered with banners and awards proudly displaying the success Seattle Pacific University has had over the years.

The sound of shoes squeaking accompanied by the roar of the crowd and the smell of buttery popcorn overwhelms visitors’ senses as they enter Royal Brougham Pavilion.

Or maybe not?

“A typical crowd is very quiet. Everyone is sitting down not seeming to care about the game,” Noah Lee said, a member of the sixth west Ashton men who collectively call themselves the Orange Men.

The Orange Men display their school spirit by attending various athletic home games and some away games, leading cheers for the Falcons.

“The Orange Men bring energy, constant excitement, encouragement for the players and a fun atmosphere,” Lee said. “The purpose of this group is to show school spirit.”

Lee reflected on one of his fondest memories of being an Orange Man.

“One of my favorite stories of the Orange Men is gathering on the floor before the games, starting in a huddle, and then go running down six flights of stairs screaming ‘GO TO THE GAME’ to all Ashton residents. Then we run down the hill to Martin Square where we convene again and chant,” Lee said.

However, when the Orange Men reach their destination, the stands seem to be empty.

According to SPU Athletics Office Manager Madi Velling, a total of 17,961 people showed for all conference games of the regular season during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Dividing that number by the 71 conference games that occurred this year, that comes out to an average of 250 people per game including students, parents, alumni and guests. That doesn’t seem so bad until you put it in the context of the seating capacity in Royal Brougham, which is 2,500.

“Occasionally a very enthused mother of a student will scream in praise and excitement,” Lee said, describing the lack of student attendance and support at the games.

First-year gymnast Miyuki Matsune describes her experiences as an SPU athlete.

“I think SPU definitely has some more room for some school spirit,” Matsune said. “In my own experience with gymnastics competitions, there was one competition that I felt we had a lot of students show up, and the school spirit was so awesome to see and definitely pumped everyone up.”

In order to encourage more attendance, the athletic department has started to create more incentive for attendants.

Despite this only being his first year in the position, SPU’s Athletic Director Jackson Stava has big plans for encouraging more student involvement and school spirit.

“In the fall, we are hoping to do a big event for orientation,” Stava said as he talked about the traditional march to the stadium. He also gave insight on a new student section being put together. One thing that both Lee and Stava talked about was creating more incentive to go to the various athletic events, as well as more publicizing.

“You might not like soccer, but you might like if there is a taco truck outside and you get a free taco during the game,” Stava said. “If that’s the case, then I’ll buy some tacos, and we will go to game.”

From free food to SPU swag, Stava and the rest of the athletic department hope to inspire more interest among the SPU community for athletic events.

Stava truly wants all students to be proud of the institution they are attending.

He talked about how he and his department want to create “events that surround our games to make everyone want to be there regardless of whether or not they are tied to that sport.”

So, if you are involved in athletics, music, art, theater or anything else in between, Stava still wants there to be a collective unity among students and faculty of SPU.

“You might love living in Hill, or you might love being a business major, but you can still have pride in being a Falcon,” Stava stated.

In the realm of athletics, oftentimes sports teams will devote a certain day of the week where the players, fans, and community all celebrate and support their respective teams.

Blue Friday is a great example of this. On Friday, if you are a dedicated Seattle Seahawks fan, you will tend to wear your Seahawks jersey or clothing of the blue and green color scheme.

Falcon Thursday was an idea thrown together in hopes of facilitating more school spirit.

“How come 80 percent of this city wears blue on a Friday … why don’t we do something like that for SPU?” Stava said as he encourages students to take pride in and celebrate the community they are a part of.

“Man, wouldn’t it be cool if you walked around campus on Thursday and everyone you saw was reppin’ SPU stuff?” Stava said.

Thursday might seem like an odd day to dedicate to celebrating school spirit, but since many of SPU’s athletic games are on Thursdays, the spirit days can also encourage attendance to those games.

Stava thinks that taking simple steps like Falcon Thursday will help lead to more SPU school spirit.

With new events, more incentives and Falcon Thursday, Stava and the rest of the athletic department hope to encourage more school spirit within the SPU community.

This article was posted in the section Sports.

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