Quinnipiac University’s athletic department has made tremendous strides since its promotion to Division I eight years ago. Its students have responded by getting more involved.
The current recreation center was built so teams had a suitable on-site practice facility, outdoor fields have been maintained, tennis courts have been added, the school’s nickname has been changed, and it even added a mascot. Also in line is a new sports complex for the hockey and basketball teams.
Athletic Director Jack McDonald, who is responsible for the changes, says the student body is recognizing the improvements.
“Our students are very aware”, McDonald said. “Our students are informed just as much as any other college in the country.”
The students’ involvement and knowledge of athletics comes from a number of promotional techniques. From daily e-mails on upcoming sporting events to free t-shirt giveaways, the athletic department does everything it can to keep students informed and encourage them to get involved.
A prime example is QU’s annual Midnight Madness, which was held October 15. A packed Burt Kahn Court filled with screaming fans in gold apparel was pure evidence of a campus alive with athletic spirit.
“We want to try and get as many people as we can,” McDonald said. “And I think we’ve done that.”
And students do not just come to Midnight Madness for their free gifts. Home attendance figures from the 2003-04 season show that men’s basketball and hockey, as well as women’s basketball had decent sized crowds per game. Men’s basketball had a total of 12,671, while women’s basketball total home attendance was 5,666. Men’s hockey averaged 955 people per home game, played seven miles off campus at Northford Ice Pavilion.
“In terms of our gym size and our student body we get great involvement,” McDonald said.
He does not expect everyone on campus to be a “die-hard bobcat fan.” Instead, McDonald said he would rather focus on the fan base that the program receives.
And those who are involved are pleased with the program’s improvements over the years.
“I always thought the athletic program was exceptional,” senior sociology/MAT major Kim Beaulieu said. “Sometimes I even wish I had tried out for the field hockey team.”
“I like the fact that we actually have a mascot now”, senior public relations major Jay Bull said.
And the athletes who are cheered on are proud and happy with the program’s development.”The athletes improve, the program gets more support, and the athletics program gains more respect and recognition each year”, said senior cross-country/track athlete Josh Jabaut. “The program has met and exceeded my expectations,” Jabaut said.
Depending on what particular game fans attend, fields or the gym may seem empty from time to time. But, what people may see as a lack of attendance is anything but that. Keeping up with the age of technology, Quinnipiac offers ways of viewing or listening to games via the Internet, TV, and radio from dorm rooms.
Even though people may not be physically in the building or standing along the sidelines, students are keeping tabs on their favorite bobcat squads. “Living off campus makes it hard to go to every game,” Bull said. “The Internet is a great resources.”
Regardless of their location students will continue promoting and showing off their bobcat spirit.