We Salute You, Fans
Being an athlete, there is no greater thrill in the world than playing in front of supporters, no matter if they are colleagues, friends or family. There is a certain rush of adrenaline that runs through the body and pushes you on when your mind tells you, “No more.”
Last year, with the exception of a loyal following for each sport, the stands were a desolate place where few dared to spend any time cheering on the athletes that represented them. Metal bleachers were left to glisten in the sun in the early fall and freeze themselves solid as the leaves fell, signaling the coming of winter. As an athlete, the idea of playing for the school was replaced by the ideology of playing for your team alone.
This year, a drastic change in the mentality of the students has been seen in attendance figures. In some cases, the numbers come close to exceeding the total number of supporters from the last year and at this point in the athletic calendar, most teams are less than one-third of the way through their season schedules.
For instance, volleyball saw a total of 850 people at its matches through the entirety of last year. Their first contest at home drew an astounding 325, a massive jump from last year’s average of 77 people per game. The figures hold true for every other sport as well.
These numbers make the few hours of athletic competition an event rather than a game, an enjoyable experience for all involved. Not to mention, just for showing up for half of the contest, you get your Yeo Card punched — not necessarily a bad perk for those Obies who can earn free stuff like scarves or airline tickets just for taking time out of the day to attend the sporting events.
As loud, proud and positive cheers, heckles and jeers stretch out from the sidelines to the to the players field or court, a certain change takes place in the athlete. The desire to win, succeed and press on courses through the battle-weary body as it prepares itself for the final push forward when down a point or during the last defensive stand when trying to hold on for a victory.
On September 19, the Oberlin men’s soccer team traveled to Case Western Reserve University, ranked third in the country, for an out of conference match-up. The field itself is surrounded by student housing, giving the Case student body the ideal location from which to view the game: their dorm rooms.
On top of that, the bleachers, which seat close to 1,000 people, were nearly half full. Yet in that sea of blue and white Case fans sat a loyal group of Oberlin supporters decked out in maroon and gold. I know the first inclination would be to assume that parents must have come out for the game, but no, that speck of odd color against the backdrop of the night was Yeomen students.
During the course of the game, Oberlin began to falter as the score line jumped to read Case, three, Oberlin, zero. With a little over nine minutes remaining, a rally cry came from the crowd, “Come on OC!” The voice echoed through the stadium. From that point forward the Yeomen battled on, scoring twice and possibly, barring an NCAA decision (see “Otterbein Win Masked by Case Controversy,” p. 20), three times to potentially tie the game.
This seems to be a general trend amongst the gentry of supporters here at Oberlin. No matter the situation, there is no quieting a fan base as loyal as the supporters here. Especially when they are able to walk out in bathing suits during the cold fall days and scream out their battle moniker, “We don’t make friends with salad!” or, “Go OC go OC go!”
Now, with greater numbers attending games than in previous years, athletic competitions at Oberlin are more than social gatherings. The community that is Oberlin College is finally beginning to come together around the growing athletic community, nurturing it rather than rejecting it. A special, heartfelt thank-you goes out to the Resident Advisors from Dascomb and Barrows who introduce their first-years to this community when they first come onto campus.
This editorial is a thank you to those individuals who have come out to support Oberlin athletics, making the school feel more communal instead of clandestine. Whether you come to all the games or a few, you know someone on the team or you do not, it makes no difference. The athletes take deep appreciation in the fact that you are willing to push them on and take time out of your day to show them your support. So, again, thank you.