Sports Fervor at the University of Rhode Island
University of Rhode Island Athletics
By Katie Hansen
Unigo Campus Rep at URI
If you go to a sporting event at the University of Rhode Island, you’re likely to witness a sea of students wearing their blue “rhody nation” t-shirts. URI students are definitely not front-runners. They’re always there to support their teams whether they win or lose. Two teams that have been in the spotlight so far this ’08-’09 school year are the women’s soccer team and the football team.
The football team at URI is always supported by a large number of fans whether they are facing rivals such as Boston College, Villanova, or Brown. Since new head coach Darren Rizzi joined the Rams, they were even able to beat long time rival Brown University. Tricia Heitzman, a senior and a cheerleader at URI said that with the addition of the new football coach, the season has become very exciting. “Football has more fans this year, which is awesome. The new coach is a URI grad and played football here while he was in college so he wants to build the program back up to where it was years ago.” Coach Rizzi is excited about how his team has been playing recently. He has said that students are able to see how passionate the football team is and there is no reason why the stands can’t be filled at every game.
“I'm sure athletes appreciate people coming out to support them. Members of different URI teams will also go out and support athletes from other sports,” said Kayla Panu, senior and Sports Editor of the school newspaper, The Good 5¢ Cigar. “And I feel like with each new season there is a new excitement for what it may bring.” Panu also agreed that the football team is in a rebuilding stage especially with its new head coach and its new bleachers.
For such a small school in the tiniest U.S. state, athletic pride is definitely evident at URI. “I do think there is a lot of school spirit, especially for basketball season,” said Heitzman. “Students sleep outside the Ryan center in the middle of February to ensure their seats at big games.” She added that the URI women’s soccer team has also been making a lot of news. After winning their past two games, they have been getting URI students excited and in the stands. After their last victory against UMass, head coach Zac Shaw had nothing but positive things to say about his team. In a recent interview, Shaw said that the team has been getting better in every game and they are excited about playing.
The fact that there isn’t always a lot for students to do on game day other than going to the game definitely helps attendance and boosts the athletes’ spirits. Because of URI policies, there isn’t tailgating or any other pre-game festivities unless it is homecoming weekend. However, that doesn’t affect the school spirit. Students still show up to the games wearing their URI t-shirts and sweatshirts and are ready to cheer on their teams on no matter what.