Proud Knights: RU Diehards Explain Their Enthusiasm for the Scarlet Knights
In Part One of a two-part series on the future of Rutgers athletics, we take a look at “Rutgers Pride” by looking into the importance of Rutgers athletics to a number of supporters of the Scarlet Knights. Topics such as what makes Rutgers’ fans: enthusiastic, anxious, excited, nervous all were addressed and the fan’s fervor for their team was evident.
In spite of the fact that Rutgers’ public image has taken a hit over the course of the past fourteen months; alumni, fans and students agree that it’s time for the school’s supporters to look forward rather than into the past. Graduate of the school or not, Rutgers fans are ready to move on and are excited for the July 1, 2014 move to the Big Ten.
Many Rutgers alumni and those in the New Brunswick area know the pride that Bruce Jones (@brucejones13088) has for his school.
Jones said, “I love attending games because I really feel a connection to the school I graduated from. That sense of pride is better than rooting for any professional sports team.”
Alumus Keith Kaskie from Netcong has noticed a big change in enthusiasm for Rutgers football as a result of the schools affiliation with the Big Ten.
Kaskie noted, “Last year I had two tickets, but due to popular demand … I upped my total to six.”
Like others, alumnus Ed Philipp (@edphilipp) has a great sense of pride in the game-day experience at Rutgers.
Philipp noted, “In my ticket group… we meet up and tailgate with four other families and our tailgates are usually 15-20 strong. I started attending football games because it was a great way to get together with a few of my college buddies. This year with the team from Pennsylvania and Michigan coming to town is only going to make the game day atmosphere so much better.”
Although embattled by the media, it appears that the recent actions of Athletic Director Julie Hermann have won over the Rutgers fan base.
Rutgers-Newark Law School alumnus and self-proclaimed Rutgers athletics fanatic Robyn V. said, “I’ve met her on more than one occasion and she is truly like-able but under such intense scrutiny. In all fairness, she really came in with so many people waiting for to fail.”
Kaskie added, “Hermann has made some great hires,” in her short time at Rutgers.
Robyn is enthusiastic about off the field hiring as well, saying “the hiring of Tom Luicci [in the athletic department] gives me hope, because he can definitely help control the message.”
The sense of pride that many Rutgers’ fans feel is not limited to the football team.
Recent graduate Kevin Amundsen (@mister856) noted, “It’s important that all of Rutgers sports have success. [Success] brings branding and with branding brings money and fans. I want Rutgers to be a top fifty school academically and always top notch in athletics.”
James from New Jersey agrees with Amundsen. James said, “I believe there are so many positive things going on at Rutgers with the University joining the Big Ten and CIC. [These changes] will add a significant increase of resources to all aspects of the university. Adding a medical school also brings RU to a new level academically.”
The fans see the move to the Big Ten as opportunity for Rutgers to expand and grow their fan base.
Jones noted, “Rutgers fans are like many other in the metro area. [Typically] mildly enthusiastic, but they come out in masses for a winner.”
James agreed with this sentiment saying, “it is going to be interesting to watch the local media. How much coverage will the major New York City news outlets give to Rutgers versus Penn State? It should be a game changer.”
James is not a Rutgers graduate but calls Rutgers his own for a number of reasons. He shared, “I feel tied to the school being a New Jersey resident and having family members with close ties to Rutgers. New Jersey only has one major sports team to be proud of, the Devils, and even they were transplanted here. New Jersey needs something to call it’s own. Rutgers is New Jersey and New Jersey is Rutgers.”
Jones finished by reminding Rutgers fans that, “we need to stand behind our teams even if we don’t agree with everything that goes on… It’s about the student athletes first and foremost.”
Philipp concluded, “fans should be more positive in their support. This is a great time in Rutgers athletics; it’s time to enjoy it”.
Part Two will take a look at fans’ visions for the future of Rutgers’ athletics. Follow Sal on Twitter for more Rutgers chatter.
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