June 8, 2004

Recent athletic excellence deserves recognition

From the start, I wanted to come to the University of Chicago so badly. I knew it was an awesome school in Chicago, and that was all I needed to hear. My sister, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, drove me down on a Sunday to check out what the school and the women's basketball team was all about. After getting lost for a while, I was able to catch the last 15 minutes of practice, get brunch at Pierce with 13 girls mildly interested in me, and hang out at Crerar while my host player did her weekend's work.

I didn't have the best time, but I didn't care. I went home and I knew that's where I wanted to be. It was my fault for coming on a Sunday, and I knew that I could have fun anywhere. The girls were cool too, so that gave me some hope.

Chicago was the only school I applied to. I applied early and if I didn't get in then I would do more college applications over high school winter break. It was a sweet day when I got that acceptance letter in the mail.

My role on the team has been to keep things light. I am the one making the jokes and giving a positive attitude about the game of basketball. It's good because there are some people who take things really seriously, so we have a pretty good balance. A little something for everyone!

Yet it's unfortunate that the fan support at our school is so disappointing. I love to play basketball for a crowd. I get so much more pumped up when I see my friends in the crowd booing bad calls. I don't think people really realize how much fan support helps people enjoy the sport.

Plus, you have to come out and support your friends. I'm sure everyone knows a few athletes that they could go cheer on with their friends. If you're going to wear a U of C t-shirt and not support your school, what's the point?

We should do something besides going to Doc Films and downloading music in our dorm rooms. Besides, what better chance for someone to meet some more people than by seeing them play and telling them "good game" afterwards?

I was able to strong arm some friends from my dorm to come last year to some games, but what really made me mad was how much more excited everyone was for intramural sports. Seriously, our house would gather up everyone they could before heading over to see our IM sport team play, and everyone would go. But not once did the house gather up to come to a basketball game!

Women's basketball hasn't had the best success recently, but even our best teams have the same experience. Softball and women's soccer were awesome this year. They both have an All-American on their team. The soccer team went all the way to the championship game and not that many people were at their games. I mean, the stands should have been full for those big games. If this small school, which claims to foster a strong sense of community, can't even fill up five rows of stands to see the best soccer team in the country play, something is wrong.

It's the same case with softball! I mean, I understand why people may not want to come to see a .500 team play, but to miss out on seeing the best team in the United States for Division III? It sucks when we go to other schools, and we realize how much the kids there support their teams. It's embarrassing when it's 6 p.m. on a Friday night, no one is ready to go out yet, and we only have two boyfriends, a couple friends, and some school staff watching the game. At least the school gives us money for nice uniforms and stuff.

I think a big reason why people do not show up to athletic events is because of the whole "jock" image. People should just realize that anyone who is accepted into the College is not the typical jock. A lot of the student body probably thinks of the athletes as kids who got into the school because of sports, not because they got good grades in high school.

That assumption is extremely untrue! We had only two new recruits last year because other recruited athletes did not have the grades to get in. Maybe some people at our school had problems with athletes before, but I also know that a lot of our students have played sports themselves.

Our women's basketball program has some really excellent leadership and a group that really wants to put in the time to get better. We're a close team now and spend a lot of time together, which will help us a lot next year in those inevitable rough parts of a long season.

Come bring your friends and check out the exciting team we're developing. Be proud to be a Maroon!