Today: Feb 21, 2024

Club team success results in rising attendance numbers

Pete Paguaga, Sports Editor:
Being a club team at Southern doesn’t come with the luxuries that being a DivisionII NCAA team comes with. Most of the club teams, including the men’s ice hockey club and men’s lacrosse club, have to play off campus. The men’s rugby team, along with many other clubs including the dance team, the step team and the cheerleading squad have to pay to play on their clubs. That means that the clubs have to do some promoting to get their clubs known and to get students to follow them.
“We’re making some shirts this season and hopefully they sell quickly,” said Joe Innamorato, men’s ice hockey club captain. “We are going for exposure this season.”
The men’s rugby team, led by club President Drew White, uses flyers around campus to help promote the team.
“We actually have a promoter for the team. He gathers information about the game, where it will be held, what time the game is at,” said White. “He then puts together a flyer and we print them out and then we put them around campus.”
The ice hockey club also uses flyers to get the word out about games.
“We make flyers for the bigger games during the season when we play Farmingdale or Albany,” said Innamorato,
“then we give them to the guys on the team who live in different dorms to get the word out.”
Both Innamorato and White have the same goal, draw a big crowd to their team’s games.
“We have a rugby group on Facebook,”
said White, “and we update the status of when our next game is, and we also make an event for the game which is sent out to 400-500 people,” said White. “On average we get at least 100 or more people.”
“I definitely think Facebook has helped a lot. We make events for our home games and we also have a Facebook
group,” said Innamorato, “which we update after every game and it also has our schedule.”
Eric LaCharity, assistant to the director of student life who oversees all club sports activities, said that club sport attendance is on the rise.
“Attendance has increased yearly,” said LaCharity. “Rugby averages 100-150 people every home game.”
LaCharity said that having the ice hockey club move from the Northford Ice Pavilion in Northford to the Lou Astorino Arena in Hamden has helped the attendance at the ice hockey games.
Success for the club teams also has to do with the high attendance, said LaCharity. The reason for the rise in attendance could be caused by winning and promoting, said LaCharity.
“Over the past three years, the cheerleading club has won a national championship, the rugby club has received their first bid to the national tournament, our step team is the best in the Northeast,” said LaCharity. “Our dance team is going to national tournament and the hockey team should go to nationals this season.”
LaCharity said that he likes the promoting done by the club teams.
“Most clubs are good at using Facebook and other social networking sites to promote for their teams. They hand out flyers around campus and hang posters around campus also,” said LaCharity.
“Word of mouth is also a great way to get people to know when and where games are,” said LaCharity.
All the club teams have the same view on having fans come to their games: they love it.
“Having fans come to the game get fans we start to play better. It makes it much easier and much more fun to play,” said Innamorato.
Another reason for the success of attendance is because some of the club sports are good sports to watch live, said Innamorato.
“I think hockey being a fast-paced game helps. Hockey live is definitely one of the most exciting sport to watch,” said Innamorato.
According to the NCAA website, Southern football team ranks 104 out of 144 Division-II schools with average attendance. Southern averages 1,978 people per home game.
White said that he doesn’t see much promoting from the NCAA teams and that might have to do with low attendance.
“To be honest, I don’t even know where I could get a basketball schedule,” said White.
Innamorato has been to a few other sporting events on campus, but one basketball game he attended stands out to him.
“I went to a basketball game, it was the one during Greek Week, and they had all their sponsors at the game and there was maybe 15-20 people,” said Innamorato. “It was suppose to be their biggest game of the year.”
LaCharity said he doesn’t know exactly why attendance is lower for the NCAA teams.
“There really isn’t an answer,” said LaCharity. “Student athletes don’t have the time to promote around campus that’s all I can think of.”
LaCharity said that because they have no time, they aren’t able to use social networking websites or hand out flyers for the students.
As club team attendance raises quickly, NCAA Division-II attendance at Southern is on the decline and there doesn’t seem to be any solid reasoning for it, said LaCharity.
According to the NCAA website, all of Division II sports attendances are on the decline.
“I hope the NCAA teams get a rise in attendance,” said LaCharity. “It all starts with school spirit, and with school spirit our attendance will raise.”

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