This is Part Three of a three-part series about student apathy toward SU athletics
“You can’t ride in my little red wagon.”
“The wheels are broken and the axle’s sagging.”
The chants of “Little Red Wagon” ring loud and clear as Bre White and company clashed with Bloomsburg University on a crisp, late September day. The euphoric melody rained down onto a sun-parched David See Field that slowly started to resemble the golden leaves in the valley below.
Six thousand fans were not chanting in pride and joy watching the Shippensburg University field hockey team. For that day, it settled for the 177 in attendance — by far the most all year, yet still a far cry for a 9–1 squad.
With attendance staggering around the 100-fan mark in both field hockey and soccer, and an eye boggling 75 — and declining — in volleyball, there had been little to get excited about at these contests. These teams that are not named football, cannot ride in the little red wagon.
They have not been able to receive the support they need. This broken crutch has left these programs limping and clawing to get noticed by the SU community. They lie helplessly as the cash cow rakes in money and supporters.
For these teams, winning does not solve everything. They need help. They need a shift in the paradigm at SU.
Enter: The Red Sea — a first-year group that has taken direct aim at eliminating student apathy on SU’s campus.
Its mission is simple. Get more notoriety for SU’s sports programs.
“Besides football, I don’t think that sports get the notoriety it deserves,” Red Sea member Kendrick Gibbs said.
That problem, as Red Sea founder Jordan Smith says, has been a growing concern throughout his years at SU — and it should be. Students like Smith have fallen into a catacomb of laziness and apathy on campus.
Smith just decided to do something about it.
“I just wanted to start a tradition at Ship,” Smith said. “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 something to look forward to.”
That plan and that drive has kick-started a movement that has spread like wildfire throughout campus. The group has more than 500 likes on its Facebook page, is recognized by Student Senate, and has made a lasting impact on the athletes who play the non-revenue generating sports at SU.
“This year was a lot different that we had the Red Sea,” field hockey player Bre White said. “They came to the Bloomsburg game and they helped us a lot.”
“The Red Sea gets me excited to play a game,” women’s soccer defender Kylee Bricker said. “People don’t understand how much a crowd and fans like the Red Sea influence the game.”
For the past five years, attendance has been stagnant across the boards in field hockey, soccer and volleyball. However, the addition of the Red Sea has made attendance see a noticeable increase over the last year. All sports, besides volleyball, saw an average increase of 25 or more people to each of their games. It is a step in the right direction for combatting the apathy so many SU students possess.
“I’m really proud of the way Shippensburg has come together, to help out the community and help out the people on the sports teams,” Smith said.
Work is yet to be done, however. Through promotion and Facebook postings, the Red Sea has reached out to many different groups on SU’s campus. The group has become a well-known figurehead as to what student support really is. But, the toughest task the group faces is how to get more students involved.
Turning a couch potato into a marathon runner is not easy. It takes time, preparation and dedication to achieve a goal this big. With each sidewalk chalking, poster hanging and Facebook posting, the Red Sea is taking the necessary strides to get the SU community off of the couch and into a steady jog — a jog that will ultimately lead to a sprint to the final goal.
The Red Sea continues to devote its energy behind solid leaders and students who are filled with Raider pride.
As 6,000 fans cheer joyfully at Seth Grove Stadium, the other SU athletic teams lean on a broken crutch — unable to ride in the little red wagon. Yet, with the help of the Red Sea, they may rise to prominence once again.
Only time will tell.