There’s Owls, and then there’s the Members of Owl Nation, who make showing school pride a priority.
Keene State College’s super-fan group, Owl Nation, is, according to its Facebook Page “A group of Keene State College students committed to attending athletic events, promoting school spirit, taking pride in our fellow student athletes sporting events and creating lasting traditions.”
Owl Nation can be found at many sports events, giving away free items, supporting KSC’s athletic teams and hyping up fans.
However, there is more to Owl Nation than booming cheers, t-shirt guns, and red and white souvenirs. There’s planning for every single event, behind the scenes work, and a true sense of school pride that needs to be present.
Especially for Gamefest, the event where Owl Nation covers three or more home games in a single day.
There is a lot of planning that goes into Gamefest events, according to Owl Nation President Dayna Sylvester.
“We start planning a couple months out,” Sylvester said.
Gamefest usually occurs on weekends where there are three games on the same day, and the fan club does whatever it can to draw students to games, offering their usual giveaways, along with amenities such as inflatables, a snow cone machine and others.
However, nothing is truly free. Owl Nation has a budget of $11,750 dollars for the year. Which, according to Owl Nation treasurer Racheal Tilbor, mostly goes to the free t-shirts and other souvenirs given away at events.
While Owl Nation does promote KSC sports teams year round, much of their effort and resources go toward basketball games.
Each member of Owl Nation has their own reason for joining. Tilbor said the atmosphere of being at the games is what she enjoys about being a member of Owl Nation.
“I like the atmosphere. I think it’s fun to go support the teams at your school,” Tilbor said.
Sylvester said she enjoys seeing student interactions during the games.
“It’s fun to see the fan section get pumped up when we’re winning. It’s interesting to see when our teams lose it also affects the fan section. Obviously we hate when we lose, but it’s just interesting to see those reactions,” Sylvester said.
Win or lose, junior and men’s basketball player Rodney Jean-Marie said that the fan support does not go unnoticed.
“They play a huge role in big games where it comes down to the wire. They’re in it. They’re active. It is sort of motivation to be like ‘Let’s win this game for the fans. They’re supporting us. They’re rooting us on, let’s do this for them’,” Jean-Marie said. Jean-Marie also said that when he found the strong fan support to be rather unexpected
“For me, I was really surprised, because I didn’t think that many people were fans of basketball. I didn’t think we had huge supporters like the ones here at Keene. It’s a great fan-base,” Jean-Marie said.
Sylvester said that winning isn’t what being an Owl fan is all about; it is about sticking through tough times and showing support for the players that represent their school.
“Hopefully people look at it as supporting the teams instead of just going because we’re good or something like that. Yes, that’s an awesome part of it, having a good team and winning, but it’s not just about that, it’s about showing your support for the players and what they do as well,” Sylvester said
On September 26 Owl Nation will be present at the KSC mens soccer, volleyball and field hockey matches. It’s club meetings are Tuesday’s at 7:30 p.m. in the Young Student Center.
Jacob Barrett can be contacted at email@example.com