Smells like Trojan spirit
That isn’t the collective smell of Trojans soccer shin pads or a pile of the Trojans’ hockey bags desperately awaiting a wash, it is the glorious stench of SAIT spirit as the school is trying to awaken the Trojan force that lies within every student.
SAITSA vice-president of student life Jose Landaverde said that as a student last year, the Trojan soul was in desperate need of a shot of adrenaline.
“There wasn’t any [pride]. It was tough to see it,” said Landaverde. “There were certain events, where maybe the hype was lacking, but the potential was definitely there.”
Apathy has a particular effect on SAIT athletes, who would like to see students become more enthusiastic about the red and white.
Mohamed Mbailelem, second-year administrative information student and member of the SAIT Trojans men’s basketball squad said he was consistently disappointed last season by the dismal crowds at home games.
“I do expect a lot more to be honest. Students are not really involved in sports. Not a lot of people come. Our facility is really nice, yet [other teams] get more fans,” said Mbailelem.
Mbailelem referenced Medicine Hat College, a school which he said has managed to generate a strong fan base for home games that, for many athletes, can make a significant difference.
“It helps a lot. I play harder when people are there,” said Mbailelem.
Medicine Hat College Students’ Association vice-president of student life Richelle Oerlemans said the school’s campus life events committee hosts events such as the recent Black & Gold Spirit Day (the school’s official colours) where they gave away free popcorn, gave students the opportunity to enter draws for prizes, and encouraged everyone to cheer on the Rattlers at their upcoming home games.
The idea of reeling students in with unique methods is not lost on SAIT campus. SAIT athletics manager, Mark Pretzlaff discussed the cheer challenge initiative that originally was used by SAIT for games against Mount Royal University, but because MRU is no longer in SAIT’s division, the cheer challenge has branched out as a way to encourage students to come up with wacky costumes, cheers or however else they wish to display their loyalty to the men and women of Troy.
Along with the cheer challenge, SAITSA opened the Gateway for the recent men’s and women’s soccer games on Sept. 30, offering a limited menu and drinks with the hope that again, more fans would attend. Landaverde said although it was an experiment, he hopes it can become a regular occurrence to appease those who wish to watch soccer from the Gateway balcony.
What Landaverde finds is the biggest obstacle in revving the Trojan-student engine, is the fact that SAIT offers predominantly two-year diploma programs. The two years may give students little opportunity to forge a connection with their school as opposed to a school such as the University of Alberta, where four-year programs are much more prominent.
To work students into a frenzy, over the past few years the U of A has held a mass dodge-ball game in an attempt to find a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. Two years ago, the school managed to draw over 4,500 students to the match and successfully solidified their place in the history books. However, the record was recently smashed by a school in California, which has divided the provincial university on whether or not they should go for reclaiming their record, or try their hand at something else.
“There has been a lot of buzz about it. Some are saying it is time to look at a new record. Some students, if not more [than those seeking a new record] want that record back,” said Simon Yackulic, external communications and media advisor of the U of A Students’ Union. Regardless of the outcome, the unique idea to compete in something on such a grand scale managed to unite the U of A students.
So whether it is the SAIT cheer challenge, the opening of the local school pub, or even a mass dodge ball expedition, Landaverde said he is determined to ensure everyone at SAIT is committed to raising the SAIT spirit to new heights.
“How can we pack those stands? How can we promote those athletes that have chosen to come here? They literally wear their school spirit on their sleeves – we have to do more and I will do my absolute best.”