For college students, nothing signals the arrival of the fall semester and the return to life as a student quite like football season and the opportunity to support their team. On September 18, Maryville College students were able to immerse themselves in this tradition in a way never before available with the debut of a designated student section.
The student section was established by MC students Gabe New and Haley Davis. It is now official, welcoming fans to come out and show support for the team.
The Scots football team faced off against Methodist in the second home game of the season. It was the first athletic event in Maryville College’s history to have a student section. Despite rain and lightning delays, the fans cheered, chanted and rallied the team while wearing neon garb. The showers did not dampen students’ spirits. Regardless of Maryville’s loss and the bad weather, the student section was a success.
New, a freshman student athlete on the golf team, said that he formulated the idea for a student section after attending the first home football game of the season. “I was hyped to go to the first game, and I get there and everybody is spread out sitting with their little cliques,” New said. He knew just the person to talk to, and wasted no time in broaching the idea with Haley Davis.
Davis, a senior at MC and student body president, said, “I have been here and established myself and I know how to get things started and I’m not really afraid to do it.”
She created an Instagram account in order to publicize the fact that the student section is official and to announce the themes for each game’s section. Aside from starting the social media account, Davis said that there were few logistical obstacles. New and Davis both agreed that the whole process was very informal.
“I showed up early with duct tape and marked off where I wanted us to sit,” Davis said.
Students attending the games will see the taped off front rows on the left side of the bleachers and a crowd of excited fans wearing outfits that coincide with the week’s theme.
The only other preparation that was necessary for Davis and New was discussing the themes for each game. The first theme was a “neon-out,” and students showed up in their brightest outfits to show support and spirit. Themes for future games are announced via the student section Instagram page.
Neither student knew exactly why there had never been a designated student section previously. New stated that he felt it had simply been “the Maryville way,” considering the large number of parents and alumni that regularly attend the sporting events. Davis conveyed that it seemed the only thing that had kept it from happening in the past was that no one had thought to do it.
For any non-students who support Maryville College athletics, New and Davis want you to know that you are still welcome to support the team with the students, as long as you are willing to participate in the week’s theme and stand for the duration of the game.
“Especially during homecoming we’re really hoping to get more alumni to come,” Davis said. Take this as an invitation to join the students in the front rows of the left side of the bleachers on Honaker Field on October 2, October 23 and November 13 for the rest of the home games. Students can also look forward to seeing designated sections for them at basketball, volleyball and soccer games in the future.
“I’m really hoping we can get something like [the student section] going for all teams, even if it’s just for a couple games, or conference games or things like that if people can’t go to all of them,” Davis said.
Overall, Davis and New hope that this project is able to strengthen the college community. New wants all students to know that they are encouraged to come and participate.
“You’re welcome to come and hang out in the student section and just be a part of it,” he said.
Another reason that Davis feels the section will benefit the student body is by giving them an opportunity to have a traditional college experience.
“Our sense of community at Maryville College has changed a lot since COVID,” Davis said. “My freshman year was the only full normal year that I had, and it felt a lot more close-knit and more like a family that year, and then once COVID hit we all had to go our separate ways… that really broke our sense of community. I think creating a student section helps us bond together over supporting each other, and I think that’s so important to do right now.”
If you are interested in attending a home game and participating in the student section, as well as staying up to date on the weekly themes, follow @maryvillecollegestudentsection on Instagram.