Hey guys, hey. The home opener is mere days away and this week we’ve noticed a bump in views and such. We welcome you aboard and I promise to find the time tomorrow to roll out a full year 3 introduction to the site for those of you who are joining us for the first time, and I guess for the rest of you to get reacquainted.
In the meantime, I’ve been harping on and on and on about how much I want to get you, the readers, involved in the site this year, in whatever capacity seems appropriate. If you want to contribute to the site, you shoot me a message on Facebook or Twitter or whatever and, if I smell what you’re stepping in, you just may have yourself your 15 minutes of non-fame.
To that end, I present a piece by one of our supporters, Jarod Hendrickson, who wrote my student section article before I did, and made a lot of interesting points. Bear in mind this was written after the end of last season, since my hardcore procrastination on writing that article extended to me posting other peoples’ articles on the same subject as well. (Or, just maybe, I didn’t want to get shown up by some upstart kid before I got around to my own piece. And by then it was, well, summer.) Anywho, in the glass half full category, this article is pretty timely given that the home opener is coming up and I am committed to making sure this year’s freshman class gets off on the right foot. Take it away, Jarod:
“I Can’t Complain if I Don’t Know How”
by Jarod Hendrickson ’13
Unfortunately I missed the glory days of hockey’s 2007 NCAA tourney run and two home playoff games at the Mullins, and how great the student section must have been that season. I can only base this article on what I’ve seen over the end of one era (the Jimmy and Casey reign and abrupt mail in of 09-10), and the rebuilding but entertaining and still equally heartbreaking 10-11 campaign. So here are some observations from a current sophomore [Ed: junior as of now], completely dedicated to this team, only to find out that a majority of his fellow “fans” aren’t even aware where they are during the game, let alone go to them.
When I arrived in Amherst the fall of 2009, I was already familiar with the student section. YouTube helped point me in the right direction, so unfortunately I was probably already ahead of most freshmen. The drunken haze of the 9-2 start to the season was great. The Bill was rocking every home game for our nationally ranked team, and chants were loud and coordinated. For the first half of the season, everything went fine, and even with the Cahoon Swoon in full effect during the second half, fan turnout was still good. As we fell flat on our face to conclude the 09-10 season (hell, at least we made it dramatic), I was cautiously optimistic of what the future of UMass hockey had in store for me and our fans. However what I saw this year out of our fans has led me to worry about the state of our student section.
To say we got off to a slow start to this season would be an understatement, earning our first win in a late November tilt against Vermont. The home opener against BU (that first goal still gives me chills) gave me hope fans would still show up, but that wasn’t the case. Obviously attendance was affected by the poor record, but should that really matter if we’re truly fans? Night after night we were competitive (with the exception of the Army game..no comment). People look at the record and immediately dismiss this team, but there is a future here (I promise!). Facebook helped spread the word of upcoming games, as did the slips of papers on tables at DC’s that people hopefully looked at. Home attendance was still good for the free t-shirt games (except senior night..embarrassing). Fans still missed out on the games that really mattered, such as the 2/12 Providence game, where our season was on the line (we didn’t lose that one btw). And at games where student turnout was good, the majority of them left early. I mean thanks for showing up for the start I guess. But it’s hard to consider such individuals “fans”, who show up shitfaced (nothing wrong there), know nothing about hockey, get their free shirt, and then leave after the first period. It was frustrating to see this happen on a regular basis, I know we’re better than that.
What’s the hurry to leave anyways? You’re just gonna end up back in your dorm at 8:30, where you will probably end up staying the remainder of the night blacking out. DU isn’t open, and Phillips and Sunset are on lockdown by the cops. Or maybe you will stagger to a party that will be busted within the first 10 minutes of your arrival. So why not make yourself useful and stay at the game for another hour and support your team? Oh we’re down by 3 goals? Well tough shit. This is college hockey, and that deficit can become a tied game in a matter of minutes, as was the case this season (but you wouldn’t know, would you, because you left every game early this year). Seriously, it happens with football and basketball..(please..rolls eyes) too, and I’m guilty as charged with leaving those games early sometimes. But let’s just stick to the team that matters, the Mass Attack. You (that’s right, YOU and all your fucking friends who know nothing about hockey) need to stay. Maybe you’ll learn something. Students need to make an attempt to learn the basics of hockey and our traditions that make the Mullins Center special. (BTW it’s “Fuck ‘em up, Fuck ‘em up, Go UMass” when we score, not “Fuck Fuck Fuck Go UMass” and obvious penalties against us don’t warrant a “Bullshit!” chant) [Editor’s note: More about that in the freshman primer that I will try to get done by Friday. – MB] For christ sake it’s only a few simple chants, nothing too hard to grasp.
So where do we go from here? Maybe it was just a down year in terms of fans and things will pick up again next year. Or it could continue to deteriorate even further. As other Fight Mass writers have suggested, there needs to be some organization and leadership to the student section, other than “that one drunk asshole everyone can hear” [Editor’s note: hey bud, Matt resembles that remark :P]. And how this changes remains to be seen. We have something special here at UMass, whether we realize it or not. I will feel personally responsible if our student section suddenly went to hell and closely resembled a line waiting to get into a frat. It’s up to us current students (with maybe some guidance from alumni) to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Not bad kid. Not bad at all. And, casual fans, if I may say something… if he and I and the rest of us are being a tad harsh at times, remember, we do this out of love. We love the team. We love this school. And hell, we have a funny way of showing it, but we love you. Even while we hate you. Don’t think about it. Just show up, this Friday and every home game after that. I cannot stress enough how much the future direction of our athletics program is in more than just the players’ and the administration’s hands.