While we are a month away…..March Madness has hit WIU. Last month, an enormous amount of school spirit was shown at the men’s basketball game as they took on South Dakota State, the team that defeated them in The Summit League Men’s Basketball championship last year. It was a game to be remembered as all of the students in the stands were participating in a “White-out” by wearing all white clothing. It was the most school pride WIU has seen since the 2005-2006 season with an attendance of 4,163 on Thursday, January 17.
Spirit continued two days later as the men’s basketball team took on North Dakota State on Saturday, January 19. The team was fighting for first place in their conference. The theme of the night was Purple Pride and all students, faculty, and community members dressed up in their best Leatherneck attire. This game brought together 3,973 fans to support their men Leathernecks!
I got a chance to speak to Kelsey Homewood, the director of Marketing and Promotions for Athletics. She spearheaded the “White-out” and “Purple Pride” games. She also wanted to try a few new ideas to build spirit at games such as turning out all the lights and spotlighting the line-up before tipoff. “Standing up there as we spotlighted the line-up gave me a great feeling,” she said.
I asked Kelsey how her department got everyone together to do this…her answer was simple…“word of the mouth.” It also helped that the South Dakota game was a big rivalry. All of the residence halls, WIU staff, and the Macomb community were notified of the plans. Our men’s basketball team’s success has really brought the university and the community together.
With only a handful of games left in the season for both the men and women, Kelsey thinks the school spirit will continue through the season…and hopefully beyond. “We are on the rise in promoting.” She has high hopes that this kind of pride will transfer into other sports on campus as well.
I think that this entire promotion really attracted not only students and faculty of the university to Western Hall, but also many alumni and community members were in attendance at the games. It was just an all around fun experience for everyone and made a memorable moment for WIU. The amount of support and encouragement shown was incredible. Nothing makes a game more enjoyable than being able to share it with people who are all supporting the same thing and that, ladies and gentlemen, is our Fighting Leathernecks! Go ‘Necks!