By Davis Hocking, Class of 2018
With 20 seconds left in the game St. Peter’s is up two points against Monmouth University about to pull off the biggest upset of the season. Monmouth has two free throws to tie up the game, and the St. Peter’s fans were silent.
“We are about to pull off a massive upset and our fans are silent,” said junior basketball player Quadir Welton, “Justin Robinson goes to the line, makes both, and we end up losing in overtime.”
Though the fans did not lose the game, they do provide an impact, according to players,especially at a home game.
“When the game went into overtime the Monmouth fans were louder than our own. It’s discouraging when you look into the stands and the people that are supposed to be supporting us are quiet,” said Quadir Welton.
According to the NCAA basketball statistics, St. Peter’s average attendance for men’s basketball games is 442 people, which is the lowest in all of division one. In fact Saint Peter’s basketball attendance is lower than most division two and three schools.
“It’s all about energy in basketball. When you’re at home, and you’re tired, the fans have to bring you up. They have to motivate you,” said Rodney Hawkins another member of the Saint Peter’s men’s basketball team.
It is not only the men’s basketball team that feels the support from fans is lacking. Alyssa Velles is on Saint Peter’s women’s basketball team, which averaged 238 fans at their games according to Saint Peter’s athletics website.
“No one comes to our games,” said Velles, “When we travel to schools like Niagara or Marist, they have easily a thousand people standing up screaming at you to miss, and lose. Then we play at home and it’s so quiet you can hear a pen drop.”
Other teams are also feeling the lack of spirit.
“I had ten times more fans at my high school games,” said freshman Kenyale McGinnis on the women’s volleyball team. “And the fans in high school cared more about the game than they do here. It doesn’t make sense.”
Recently there have been some advances in getting people more involved with the sports team. This year was the “Strut Your Pride” T-shirts at the basketball games, and there has been talk about getting shuttles to and from Jaroschak Field to support the soccer teams, as well as baseball and softball.
“So far we have a petition with 354 names and signatures for shuttles to go to Jaroschak Field for next year so student can watch our sports teams play,” said Karen Castaneda a member of the Saint Peter’s swim team. “Support is such an important thing when it comes to sports, you ride the momentum of your fans, and without any you might as well be playing away from home.”
The men’s soccer team plays on Jaroschak field, which had an average of 68 fans per game this season, according to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Monmouth who was regular season conference champions, had an average attendance of 600, almost ten times more fans then Saint Peter’s.
“It’s discouraging at times,” said men’s soccer assistant coach Evan Brandsdorfer. “A great team can never use that as an excuse, but it’s obvious that our support needs to be better.”
Andy Afful a freshman biology major who does not attend sporting events, offers a different perspective.
“I just don’t feel the need to go and cheer,” said Afful. “At basketball games I go but no one is really into it. I don’t want to be the one person standing up and yelling, that would be awkward.”
“The atmosphere at Monmouth was crazy,” said Michael Crentsil a sophomore on the soccer team. “The fans are going nuts, screaming for them to win, cheering them on, it’s almost impossible not to give it your all when you have that much support, and that much love for your team. Then playing at home after games like that you laugh. I don’t think our fans once cheered for us while we were playing.”
The athletes feel like the fans need to show more support, and to have more school spirit. The fans motivating the Peacocks to win could be the missing piece that would make St. Peter’s a school that people fear playing.
“We lost to Iona this year at home by only seven points, and we only lost to Monmouth in overtime. Imagine if our fans were into the games, screaming all game long. If they are showing their support like Monmouth or Iona fans do, then we would win those games.” Said Quadir Welton.
“This year we lost two important games at home to Iona and Canisius. If our stands were like Monmouth’s we win those games 100 percent,” said Michael Crentsil.
Though St Peter’s University is a lot smaller then some other schools in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, some say the school still has the potential to fill up its stands, and show its peacock pride.
“We can fill up stands the school just has to come together as one. It’s not just the sports teams that win and lose, it’s the entire school,” said Kenyale McGinnis. “If people want to see Saint Peter’s win a MAAC championship in anything, then the whole school has to come to together and cheer everyone on.”