Creating a culture of support

Hannah Early, Melissa Funstein and Hannah Rau

The men’s basketball team took to the court last Wednesday night to take on conference foe LaSalle. On most game nights, students, faculty, and citizens of Davidson flock to Belk Arena to get a peek at the team that Stephen Curry took to the Elite 8. They come to watch the team that won the regular season title in their first season in the Atlantic 10 Conference and repeatedly dominated the SoCon. On this night, however, attendance was low, especially student attendance. The energy level in Belk Arena was noticeably down throughout the game, a fact that Coach McKillop and his players commented on after the game. That night, men’s basketball experienced what most students, athletes, and non-athletes alike, experience throughout their Davidson careers. While the men’s basketball team’s concerns are understandable, the reactions from players, staff, students, and townspeople were difficult to swallow especially considering the team consistently has about 4,200 fans a night. The lack of student support at Wednesday night’s game only brings to light a growing issue. What the men’s team experienced happens on a wider scale and on a more consistent basis for the rest of the student body. As seniors on three different women’s athletic teams–Basketball, Volleyball and Field Hockey- -we have a unique perspective regarding campus support. All Davidson sports teams made a huge adjustment last year, working hard to raise their level of play to compete in the A-10. We appreciate any and all support, and feed off of the energy from everyone in attendance. We love representing this school through athletics, but often feel disconnected from the rest of the Davidson community. Women’s basketball is constantly compared to the level and style of men’s: by nature, women’s basketball is less likely to make ESPN’s Top 10 plays, but the players demonstrate passion and camaraderie on every drive. In this season’s home game against George Washington, the top team in the conference, the GW fans far outnumbered the Davidson fans. Although low student and fan turnout is normal, moments like this are difficult especially on Davidson’s home court. Volleyball advertises the first home game of the season as “800 Fan Night”, hoping to spike interest and encourage students to come to more games throughout the season. This night is usually a huge success, but once the match ends, that level of fan turnout is rarely seen again until the next match where free food or shirts are given out to students. Even when those promotions occur, most students come for the first of up to five games, enjoy the free goodies, and then leave. The energy level in the gym then plummets as the team watches a mass of students exit just as the match is heating up. Although home games normally offer the hosting team an advantage, this is not the case for most Davidson sports teams other than men’s basketball. Regardless of whether our teams have had successful or difficult seasons (when we need support most!) turnout has remained constantly low. Fans could have a large role in the success of our athletic teams, creating energy and intimidating the opponent any time a Davidson team earns a point, scores a goal, wins a race, or makes a basket. This past season’s field hockey game against Richmond was one of the team’s proudest moments. With a turnout of almost twice the normal crowd, the energy felt electric and the team successfully transferred it onto the field, becoming the number one seed in the A-10 after an exhilarating overtime win. This was one of their six home games this season, the other thirteen were on the road, which made for a brutal travel schedule. After a grueling weekend of travel, the team pulled up to Baker late Sunday night to find five guys standing outside to welcome them home. The boys sported homemade signs that read “DCFH Stop Stealing Our Hearts” and “We Love DCFH.” Their support brought quite a few players to tears: after two games, two nights in two hotels, and an eight hour bus ride, the team would normally feel fairly disconnected from the Davidson community. However, knowing that DCFH had unconditional support meant so much to them. On the other hand, It’s not uncommon to hear students ask where the field is or not know what field hockey is in general. This disconnect further emphasizes the lack of support for the various student groups and organizations on campus. The problem of weak support does not just affect the athletic community. Other students work hard to represent Davidson on the stage acting in plays or musicals, at research symposiums presenting their ground-breaking studies, in peaceful protests advocating for the values they stand for, or at VAC art galleries displaying their senior art shows, and rarely experience support from students outside of their friend groups. Davidson prides itself on being a supportive and caring community of bright young minds. We are not asking students to attend every athletic competition, talk in the 900 Room, or event in the Lilly Gallery. We know that there is not enough time in a student’s schedule to attend every event that goes on throughout the year. We do believe, however, that if every person put forth a conscious effort to show more respect for their fellow students’ hard work, in whatever capacity it may be, the Davidson community could become a more united body. If we change our mindset to start focusing on how we can best support our peers, especially those whose work often goes unrecognized, we can continue to build our community into a more cognizant and considerate environment that appreciates each other’s unique gifts. Working to create such a culture could help Davidson become a place where not only the men’s basketball team feels supported, but all athletes, artists, musicians, dancers, activists, and academic scholars can also shine in the spotlight.

Hannah Early `16 is a Religion and Political Science double major from Huntersville, North Carolina. Contact her at haearly@davidson.edu

Melissa Funsten `16 is a Psychology major and Environmental Studies minor from Raleigh, North Carolina. Contact her at mefunsten@davidson.edu

Hannah Rau `16 is a Biology major and Hispanic Studies minor from Palos Verdes Estates,California. Contact her at harau@davidson.edu

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