By LAUREN TAYLOR
Having grown up in Charlottesville, home of the Virginia Cavaliers, I am used to an overwhelming amount of school spirit, community involvement and sense of pride for a college. When I arrived at the University of Mary Washington, I was shocked at the stark differences between the spirit both on campus and throughout the community.
I chose UMW seeking a small school with a tight-knit feel, and I did so knowing that there is no football team to cheer for on crisp Saturday nights. Even though I myself am not the biggest sports fan out there, the lack of a football team at college does leave something to be desired.
I often hear from my high school friends about the games that they are attending at their respective colleges, and Saturday nights guarantee posts about tailgates, games and group pictures of friends clad in school colors. I have yet to see similar occurrences during any of the athletic games for our own Eagles.
Despite the fact that our school houses a talented and well-performing athletic department, the student body in general does not hold an abundance of school spirit. The amount of participation within student sections varies drastically by season, sport and even games within the season.
While I often hear announcements about coming out and supporting Eagle Nation on B101.5, a local Fredericksburg radio station, and from friends who are on sports teams, I very rarely hear about games before they occur. I do not see announcements across campus alerting students to upcoming games very often, and posts on social media typically come during or after games. Coming from Charlottesville, which was always covered in orange and blue for UVA game days, I did expect and still hope to see blue and gray lining Campus Walk. I do not hear about scores or performances from games unless I see the banners going across OrcaTV or in the student newspaper.
One of the most surprising things for me is seeing students wearing gear supporting other schools. Even if these schools are not in our division, I’m still shocked at the number of students who walk around wearing JMU, Virginia Tech, UVA and many other schools. Coming from a college town myself, this is something that I have never seen students do. I can only speak for what I have grown up around, but typically it is taboo for a student to be wearing swag for another school and it usually garners some pretty strange looks.
While having a football team does not directly affect the level of students’ spirit, there does seem to be a noticeable correlation between the two factors. Half of the 10 schools in the Capital Athletic Conference have football teams. Similarly, many of the Division III schools in Virginia have football teams. Even smaller colleges such as Averett and Shenandoah do, so clearly size of the student body is not the deciding factor as to whether or not a college will house a football team. Thus, school size does not determine the amount of school spirit present on a college campus.
Not many other sports have the reputation that football does when it comes to rallying and hype. Since adding a football team to the athletic department at UMW in the near future is most likely not a realistic feat, there should be efforts to increase school spirit for athletes, students and the surrounding Fredericksburg community. With already talented athletic teams, there is reason enough to rally with ample spirit.