It is your first game. The butterflies swim in your stomach. No amount of training, Gatorade or Red Bull can prepare you for what is coming.
Can they trip you up? Can they cause jitters your first start?
Of course, and that is what they plan to do.
Confusion? Disorientation? Ringing in the ears? You either have a concussion, or are in the midst of a storm unlike no other — a raucous, ear piercing, cataclysmic storm.
There is nothing quite like home field advantage in college athletics.
There is nothing quite like a student section that gives you that advantage.
For years, David See Field and Seth Grove Stadium have stood devoid of any life. Games came and went without as much as a passing glance. It did not matter whether the field hockey team was about to win a PSAC championship; games at SU carried as much excitement as a biology final at 8 a.m.
To the students, that is.
Meanwhile, parents have flocked to games. Their pilgrimage from all parts of the state to these fields on game day made up the majority of the supporters. Raising their cheers and Raider pride, the parents did their best to make an impact.
However, a stadium without a student section rarely manufactures the same game-day experience.
Picture Beaver Stadium at Penn State University without its student section, which was voted the best student section in 2008 by ESPN, the magazine.
Picture Death Valley in LSU without its student section. That intimidation is gone.
Think of a Duke University basketball game without the Cameron Crazies.
All of those teams are synonymous with their fan bases.
In fact, any stadium, big or small, that lacks a student section, not only lacks intimidation, but it also lacks pride and tradition. Without having the people who share the same classes with you, the same trials of all-nighters and mid-term exams on 12 chapters there to support you, there is no camaraderie and no companionship between students and student athletes.
Shippensburg University student Jordan Smith has seen the vacant stands at David See Field and Seth Grove Stadium. He has witnessed the lack of school spirit that SU possessed.
The birth of The Red Sea became the result.
The Red Sea, the new student section at SU, is aimed at giving the Raider sports programs an added boost during games; to provide intimidation for all those who tread onto SU’s campus.
“Last year we went to a couple of basketball games and it was dead quiet, and we felt that it was time to change that here at Ship and to give students here something to look forward to,” Smith said.
The Red Sea has made its presence known in the last couple of weeks, supporting Raider athletics in every sport from field hockey to soccer to football. With its chants of “Little Red Wagon” and “We are SU,” students are building bonds with not only the group, but also with the parents and athletes.
SU junior Megan Fick emphasized this during a group interview.
“I just want to see a greater sense of community within Shippensburg,” Fick said.
This community is not only growing but has also started to become a trending topic on campus.
In the last few weeks, the Red Sea has attained more than 35 followers on Twitter and more than 400 “likes” on Faceboook. T-shirts adorning the slogan “Shape Up or Ship Out,” have been in high demand with shirts flying off the tables.
While attendance at games remains modest in size, the camaraderie between students and athletes has already shown. Each hand-shake or fist bump between student and student-athlete, symbolizes the support that each student at SU has to offer.
“I just wanted to start a tradition at Ship, I want to come back 10 years from now and see what we have created,” Smith said.
This tradition, which gains speed daily, will only bring this community closer than ever before.
No longer are student-athlete and student separated. For three hours, on game day, this community, this school, all possess its Raider pride.
For more information on the Red Sea, visit its Facebook page under the key word, Shippensburg Red Sea.