It’s amazing what a little face paint, a group of college kids, and some good old enthusiasm can do. After watching Butler in this NCAA March Madness tournament I’d say it could do just about anything. The Butler Bulldogs defeated the Michigan State Spartans this weekend in a nail-biter that went down to the final seconds.
The Spartans had to purposely miss a second free throw in order to quickly get the rebound and score again. This would have awarded them the three points they needed to tie the game and force overtime. But Butler players stayed strong, encouraged by their wild blue and white-painted, screaming fans. This got me thinking, what if USF had fans like these? What could a group of crazy, face-painted, screaming Los Locos do for our own USF Dons?
Over the past two years I have seen some amazing games at USF where fans came decked out in green and gold, pom poms in hand, screaming at the top of their lungs. Particularly games against our rivals like Santa Clara or against big time opponents like Gonzaga. In these games, fans have an obvious effect on the mentalities of our players. Playing in front of a screaming crowd gives a certain adrenaline rush that is hard to replicate. This year we upset WCC champs and NCAA tournament participant Gonzaga. It was an incredible sight to see when USF students jumping over railings and rushed the court. This is the kind of school spirit that lifts the performance of any team, no matter how formidable the opponent. This kind of school spirit is precisely what USF needs in order to win the WCC and get a birth in the NCAA tournament.
Imagine seeing our school on National Television playing against opponents like Duke or Kansas. This may be a long shot, but while watching Butler this weekend I saw the potential. If a mid major program like Butler, with a group of hardworking, homegrown Indiana boys can make it to the finals, then what is stopping USF from winning the WCC? If we can take anything from the 2010 NCAA Tournament, it should be that the underdog is a force to be reckoned with. Only one first ranked team (The Duke Bluedevils) ended up in the Final Four. This proves that a little talent, a lot of hard work and the support of a loud, proud student body can take a school very far.
As the student body we need to take pride in our school’s athletics by attending not only the big games, like Gonzaga and Santa Clara, but all the games. By supporting our student athletes we are not only helping our teams be successful but also helping to create a more unified USF campus. At many schools, a basketball game is a huge deal where students camp out for days in order to get tickets. Obviously, this is not the case at USF. Student get free entry to all home games by swiping their USF ID.
If the love of the game or pride in the Dons isn’t enough, then how about free t-shirts, food, books, flexi and coupons for restaurants all around the city? The USF athletic department works hard to get companies to sponsor the Dons and reward students who attend the most games. The more games you attend, the more points you get. The more points you get, the more prizes you can win.
For the more dedicated fan, there is the Los Locos Club. By joining Los Locos, students get special, lower level seating at home games as well as priority tickets for away games. Additionally, members receive free t-shirts and e-mail updates about upcoming games and related events.
With the NCAA basketball season coming to a close USF fans must remember what happened this 2010 NCAA Tournament. The little guys came through and proved that it’s not all about the big name schools and a big time budget. Any school can come through with a group of hard working players and some screaming fans at their back. Anything can happen when March comes around and USF is definitely due for some madness.