Basketball teams looking for strong student support as season enters toughest stretch

The  crowd cheers after a Laker basket at the home game on Monday against Olivet College.

Rane Martin

The crowd cheers after a Laker basket at the home game on Monday against Olivet College.

Brady Fredericksen

Ambience is one of the things that makes live sports exciting. Whether it be a historic stadium or rambunctious crowd, sometimes factors outside the game itself make the events fun.

For the members of Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team, crowd interaction not only inspires their play on the court but also makes the games a must-attend attraction for students.

“We try to pride ourselves on bringing the energy, but when the crowd is there it’s definitely a lot easier,” said junior guard Alvin Storrs. “You have that fanfare and crazy stuff going on in the stands. I think that just fires up everybody.”

The fans’ impact is felt by everyone. Atmosphere created by the fans is an important aspect of the game; it is a playful insult after an opposing player’s mistake or the cheers that come with a thunderous dunk by the home team.

“Our game is all about momentum and energy,” said head coach Ric Wesley. “When your players feel that support, hear that cheering and see those bodies in the stands, it inspires you and gets your adrenaline to help you play your best.”

The No. 16 Lakers have had support from many different outlets early this season. Along with the cheer and dance teams, the pep band makes regular appearances at home games. With their music and taunts of the opposing team, they create a fun and always interesting soundtrack to the game.

“We know we’re fortunate here,” Wesley said. “We’ve got a tremendous pep band, and our dance squad and cheerleaders work really, really, hard to create a great environment.”

Despite the support both the men’s and the women’s basketball teams receive from those groups, there is a lack of a true student section. With an average home attendance of 1,000 fans for men’s games so far this season, students have not made their presence felt in the stands. Most can be seen sitting instead of up and yelling exuberantly similarly to the band.

GVSU senior Peter Pougnet, an avid fan of the basketball teams, is attempting to build a student section dedicated to cheering on a nightly basis.

“Our basketball teams deserve a student section that is comparable to the big schools,” Pougnet said. “As students at GVSU, we are privileged to have such strong athletic teams, and we should attend the games and support them, no matter if we are winning by one point or 30.”

Starting next semester, Pougnet plans on passing out flyers with organized cheers and chants during games. He hopes his effort, combined with student participation, will help enhance fans’ experiences at games.

“Cheering for our school and fellow students is most important,” he said. “A high-quality student section, when loud enough, can carry teams to victory. When everyone is jumping and yelling together, it will make Fieldhouse Arena very hard to play in.”

With seven home games left in the regular season, the Lakers will look to their crowd to help push them through the GLIAC season. If the team’s 5-0 home record is a sign of strength, the incorporation of Pougnet’s student section could push the team to new heights at home.

“If you get a little fatigued and you hear that crowd roaring you really forget about being tired,” Storrs said. “It’s beneficial to me personally, and I think having a good crowd definitely benefits our team. We really appreciate it.”

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