By: Daniel Massa – Sports Editor
The school year is ramping up, and all students, especially first-years, are falling into a new routine and trying to balance any and all responsibilities they may have: academics, extracurricular activities and a social life. It can be a tough transition and balancing act, and sometimes it can be pretty easy to end up not giving yourself the full college experience because you’re unsure if you’ll be able to do it all.
I completely understand that feeling, and it can be justified at times. For a lot of us, college is the biggest challenge we’ve faced in our lives, and we need to make sure we dedicate enough time to the things that are truly important. But, if at all possible, I think we should try our best to make sure we take in all this university has to offer, including its athletic teams.
There are many things that make American higher education unique, and collegiate athletics is one of them. There’s not really another place in the world where universities gain so much support directed at something that doesn’t have to do with academics. So much of a school’s pride, so many of the memories made, can be attributed to a team, a season—or even a single game.
Take when the men’s basketball team made it to the Elite Eight in 2014, for example. There was such a palpable buzz around campus. Yes, the cynics might claim that some people merely used the success as an excuse to party even harder, but I also think part of the excitement was a genuine celebration of a shared accomplishment.
If that sounds a little bit odd, well, it sort of is. It goes back to the uniqueness of the entire system of intercollegiate athletics. I think we all understand that when it comes to the actual competition, of course, the players and coaches are the ones who put in the work and get the results. But, much like when a city rallies around its professional teams, a college campus shares in both the elation of success and sadness of defeat. I believe we have a right to share in that because, in the end, we are all students at the University of Dayton. I’d like to think that we all care about this school and wish to see it achieve as much success, in sports or any other endeavor, as possible.
I know people make memories related to all sorts of things while they’re in school. This is not a campaign to single out sports as the most important or necessary way to live out the college experience. I’m just presenting a few options for you all to make some great college memories this semester.
Dayton’s volleyball team went 30-6 last season and won a match in the NCAA Tournament. The team returns all but two players from that squad this year, including senior Alaina Turner, who won the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Award last season, and their first home matches are Friday and Saturday, when they’ll host the Dayton Invitational. Frericks makes for a great atmosphere for volleyball, and the Flyer pep band always adds that extra level of excitement. Plus, admission is free, as are all other campus sporting events except men’s basketball.
Just steps away from the Frericks Center is Baujan Field. Home of the UD men’s and women’s soccer teams, Baujan is another great setting to cheer on the Flyers. Stand on the sidelines with Red Scare, doing whatever you can to get into the minds of the opponents, or sit on the terrace across the field for a more traditional view of the action. The women’s team also made the NCAA Tournament last year and boasts two of the top 100 players in the country, seniors Ashley Campbell and Nicole Waters, according to TopDrawerSoccer.com. The men’s team, as of Sunday, is 2-1 on the year, with a 4-1 win over Cleveland State last week.
Last, but not least, the other “on-campus” fall sport, football. Yes, Welcome Stadium is across the river and not on what most people would consider to be campus, but buses run from campus to the stadium on game days. Plus, how can you go to college in America without going to at least one of your school’s football games?
The Flyers went 8-3 last season and return redshirt senior running back Connor Kacsor, the program’s all-time leading rusher. They won their season opener Saturday at Robert Morris and will have this weekend off before their home opener on Sept. 19 against Duquesne during family weekend.
I urge you all to try and make it to at least one game of each of those on-campus sports this semester. I promise you won’t regret it.