Owl Nation, the self-proclaimed super-fan club of Keene State College athletics, has its sights set on improving student support of the athletic program.
Owl Nation, which is in its second year of being an official student organization here at KSC, hosted its first event Friday, Aug. 31. The Hootie Kick-Off, a pep rally in support of fall sports teams both club and varsity, was held at the KSC athletic complex to exhibit school spirit. The pep rally showed campus-wide support for the athletic programs here at KSC.
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“We had the fall kick-off, which was just like a big pep rally to show them that we’re here. We try to attend every game. We do Couch Potato to try to get more students involved and stuff like that,” Owl Nation President Hannah Gawrys said. Couch Potato is a raffle in which students win an opportunity to watch the game from exclusive seating. “Couch Potato is a contest that we do. We give KSC students tickets as they enter an event, and then we’ll pull one and they get to sit on the couch as like a comfy seat and they get free popcorn and soda to watch the game,” Gawrys said.
Gawrys first got involved last year before running for president of the organization last spring. As president, Gawrys’ responsibilities involve running meetings as well as organizing events like last week’s kick-off. “Over the summer I planned the Hootie’s Fall Kick-Off. I do a lot of talking with people and calling people and that kind of stuff,” Gawrys said of her duties. Owl Nation, which is committed to showing support for all varsity and club sports teams at KSC, primarily focused on basketball in its inaugural year as an organization.
“Last October was really when Owl Nation kind of got off the ground, and they focused on basketball. They decided to choose the sport that had the biggest fan base in terms of numbers of students and community members that go to the games,” Owl Nation advisor Casey Wilson said.
But Wilson said that Owl Nation has since shown and will continue to show more support for the other teams on campus. “They thought that it would be best to create a pep rally for each season, so they started off with the fall pep rally, they’ll be doing one in the winter and one in the spring. But they didn’t want it to focus on just one sport,” Wilson said. “We really have been kind of pushing to take over the winter sport pep rally. From Owl Nation’s perspective we want to showcase all of the winter sports, not just basketball,” Wilson continued to say.
She added, “The fall athletes were in support of the program, they had a great time, and I think it’s just, you know, building that hype and getting that excitement out so that people will realize that this is a student organization that they can be a part of and it can be really good for Keene State.”
Athletic Director John Ratliff said, “I think they’re off to a great start… I think they’re doing a great job. I think anything they do has been a big support for us.”
With all the support Owl Nation has shown to the athletic department, the department has supported Owl Nation in its own ways. “They’re a student group, just like any other group on campus. The event this weekend we paid for, the athletics paid for the Campus Safety Officers that were there…There’s not direct support but there’s indirect support like that where we would pay to help support that program that they did for the fall sport teams,” Ratliff said.
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