As basketball season begins, the GW spirit program is making strides to increase student awareness and support for the two most visible teams on campus.
“Personally, my goal is to get all of the sports-minded students to the games,” said senior Steve Deacon, student coordinator for athletic activities. “The other students will come with wins. When the games become the thing to do, they will jump on the bandwagon, and I see that happening in the very near future.”
The organization started off with Spirit Week, which included stands with giveaways in J Street, a door decorating contest and a Colonial Idol singing competition.
The week-long celebration ended with Colonial Invasion, GW’s replacement for Midnight Madness. About 1,500 students flooded the Smith Center for contests with prizes like a big screen television and a Vespa scooter, appearances by the stars of the men’s and women’s basketball teams and a performance by the nationally ranked cheer and dance squads.
Although the spirit program is centered mainly on sports, the organization’s coordinator, Nicole Macchione, said the events could bring in students who might not be interested in athletics.
“This is a great way to say that you may be interested in something else,” she said. “But this is a chance to build community, to meet new people, to have an outlet, to have fun, and in a safe way.”
Josh Hartman, the assistant program coordinator of Spirit Programs, said students are enthusiastic about being at GW, regardless of how successful the sports teams are.
“Everyone loves going here and being a GW student,” he said. “It’s not about loving athletic teams, they get what they want to out of GW, they’re excited. When they graduate, they’re proud that they graduated from here. That’s what I think spirit is.”
Hartman said students at GW care more about the University as a whole than simply about the teams. He said this mindset is better than what happens at football-oriented schools, where students may lose interest if the teams have unsuccessful seasons.
“Here, it’s not about whether we’re having a good year or a bad year,” Hartman said. “Students still band behind their teams whether they’re doing well or not. And it’s not just the basketball ball teams; it’s others as well. That makes us different from other schools.”
There are now other programs to unite the basketball fans. For $10 per year, the Colonial Army gives members exclusive access to the lower part of the student section, discounted tickets to away games and T-shirts.
The men’s and women’s teams are expected to have strong seasons this year. In July, ESPN.com ranked the men No. 37 in the nation, and the women are poised to make a run at yet another NCAA Tournament berth.
“Both guys and girls teams are going to be amazing,” Deacon said. “I think everyone involved with the team would be disappointed not going to the dance.”