Rooting for the Home Team at UVM
By Lauren Foley
Unigo Campus Rep at UVM
The general atmosphere on UVM’s campus is very brisk and lively, which is reflected in the profound interest and involvement with athletics. In addition to the traditional array of Division I varsity and club sport options, UVM also offers a wide variety of intramural sports, ranging from the standard soccer, basketball, and football, to the more unusual broomball, putt-putt golfing, and inner tube water polo. Whether you were a high school athletics star destined to be recruited by Division I, or someone who is looking to goof around, with broomball and some friends, UVM inevitably has something for you.
Michelle LeClair, former UVM varsity softball shortstop, credits athletics with campus unity. “Athletics get people together. They're social events that allow students to get to know others they might not have met otherwise,” said LeClair. Other schools with smaller athletics programs inevitably lack the added enthusiasm. At a medium sized school like UVM, the added bonus of Division I teams invite students to take pride in the university, despite their differing backgrounds or academic interests. “Our school is more widely known because we are involved in division I athletics,” said UVM undergrad Shannon Foley.
UVM has acquired a fair amount of athletic accolades, which means many rivalries, especially with Dartmouth, the University of Albany, and Boston College. UVM sporting events are often chaotic, loud, boisterous, and the crowd shows incredible school spirit and energy when it comes to rooting for their teams. Boston College and UVM hockey are especially hostile. If it’s a home game, students often chant the opposing goalkeeper’s name antagonistically and make up lewd lyrics to the pep band’s rendition of “The Hey Song” while Rally, UVM’s friendly and fuzzy Catamount mascot, crowd surfs and dances. The same goes for UVM Men’s Basketball and the University of Albany. When students are not singing inappropriately, they spend their time dancing to pep band songs, screaming out, “Go Cats, go!” at random intervals.
For Michelle, an athlete, “The entire [game] day is geared to the sport. Our games would start at 1 and 3ish. We would be at the field for 10 and probably wouldn't leave until 5:30 or 6 at night,” she said. For most students, an evening soccer or hockey game is a framework for which they plan the rest of their evenings. Friday is a day in which students can count on tickets being sold out and the stands being packed. “You have to get your tickets a week before, on the first day they are sold. A lot of people go out to parties afterward, because the games get out before 10 most of the time,” said Shannon. “Then, after the game, it is all anyone can talk about.”
In the fall, soccer seems to be one of the more popular sporting events on campus. On weekends, students arrive in bunches and flash student IDs for free admission and find a seat on the chilly bleachers. There are small giveaways and even free food before many games. Leonardo’s Pizza, a local chain, often hands out ten or so free pizzas as a promotion. Occasionally, UVM gives away green and gold pom-poms, cardboard hockey masks at the hockey games, and free T-shirts.
Halftime shows never fail to entertain the crowd. Fans can usually watch children race in tricycles, the UVM Dance Team busting a move, or Rally, the goofy Catamount mascot, doing some cartwheels. Often, there are 50/50 raffles and pizza giveaways to lucky fans. Though the halftimes are great, as soon as the whistle blows for the second half, the dedicated fans of UVM always rush back to turn their attention back to the game. As most students have noticed, athletics have brought school spirit to a new level, causing them to represent their school proudly and look forward to the next game, always root, root, rooting for the home team.