It is pregame, and the stands are almost completely empty. This is understandable, but as time gets closer to kickoff, the scene does not get much better.
As the players run out onto the field, a casual glance toward the student section reveals a disappointing sight: only about half of it is filled.
It is time to start the game, and the team is missing an essential player, the student section.
The student section is eventually filled to the max, but it is already a few minutes into the first quarter.
Being a little late to the games has become a norm for many students, and having a less than capacity crowd at kickoff has come to be expected by players.
“The only game I have been to this year was the Strake game,” junior Thi Mai said. “I was about thirty minutes late and I left early. I usually like to spend my Friday nights with the fam.”
Dedicated fans recognize the problem as well.
“I have been to every game this year except the first Beaumont Kelly game,” junior Allen Krause said. “I am one of the few students at the away games. More students should come to the games, we would play better if we had more students in attendance.”
Even with the student section filled to capacity and then some, participation is below where it needs to be. The loudest the student section has been this year was at the Strake game.
“As a player, and coming from Pius, the participation in the student section is a lot better,” junior Miles Ralph said. “It could use some improvement. [The Eagle Guard] should do something creative or new to get more students involved.”
“Honestly, the student section could be a lot better,” junior Campbell Clarkson said. “Everyone comes to the Strake and Pius games, but no one comes to any other games. Even at the Strake and Pius games, the students only cheer until the girls get there, and then they leave to go party. The team is not really affected by this. We are so used to the lack of interest that we are immune to it.”
The Eagle Guard is struggling to overcome this daunting obstacle.
“The students just don’t have school spirit,” senior Eagle Guard member Nathan Hoelker said. “Students just use the games as a social event. I get that you talk to your friends, but when there is a big play or one of our teams is neck and neck then we need to be loud. When a group of people come together, it can strike fear against our opponents and boost our team’s moral.”
With no help from the stands, the Eagle Guard is under constant duress to get the crowd loud.
“Cheering doesn’t work,” Hoelker said. “I have had help from Father Fulton to gather people in the stands instead of being on the side. We can’t fix this problem. It is up to them to learn what their priorities are.”
With so many rich traditions, it should only come as natural to support the team.
“St. Thomas is supposed to be this brotherhood where we would do anything to defend each other, but it is sad to say that it is slowly diminishing,” Hoelker said.
The student section is an essential part of our many teams. In all, the team needs more participation from the student section to ensure a positive influence on the game’s outcome.