by Martin Schlegel
Last spring, MSUM rallied behind women and men’s basketball. Both teams made it to the playoffs while the men’s team had their best season in MSUM history. Losing in the Elite Eight, the men’s team raised awareness among the student body. A buzz spread throughout campus about the team’s achievements. This fall the football and women’s volleyball teams’ success has students taking notice too.
Among the highlights this fall, the Dragon football team has hosted their first night game in almost 30 years, were featured on ESPN top 10 plays of the day and started the season with a 3 – 0 record. The unblemished record through three games is something that hasn’t been done in 28 years and attendance at football games is steadily rising.
In 2012, the average home attendance at football games was 853 fans. In 2013, the average attendance rose to 1,004. In the two home games this season, the average attendance was 1,134. Junior Lexi Weller said she noticed the increase.
“It’s exciting that more people are invested in the football team this year,” she said.
Head coach Steve Laqua likes the student turnout thus far.
“It adds energy to the game,” Laqua said. “Our team feeds off that emotion.”
The women’s volleyball team is also off to a great start this season. With a record of 9 – 2 through their first 11 games, MSUM women’s volleyball is among the NSIC leaders. Earlier in the season, they beat Grand Valley State, who were ranked eighth in Division II at the time.
Recently, the volleyball team lost to 19 ranked Northern State 2 – 3. In the loss, MSUM became the first team all season to win a set against Northern State. Senior libero/defensive specialist Amber Krenske agrees that, despite the recent loss, the team has dominated thus far.
Now that the team is playing more home games, Krenske hopes more people get excited.
“Our crowd has been growing,” Krenske said. “We definitely draw a lot of energy from our crowd. Personally, I play better when more people are watching.”
Larson likes to watch volleyball and has become aware of the team’s success.
“Now that they have more home games, I would watch them,” Larson said.
Many have come out to support the team. Over a thousand spectators were in attendance for the first two home games combined.
MSUM sports have always been in the shadow of NDSU sports, especially football. According to the NDSU ticket office, 1,400 students were on a waiting list for a chance to get one of 3,900 tickets to the UND matchup. Lately, the Fargodome has seen high demand for the 18,000 plus seats available, but it has not always been that way.
In 2002, NDSU football finished the season with a record of 2 – 8. They averaged 10,622 in attendance. Then in 2007, NDSU finished 10 – 1 and average attendance rose to 18,141. In 2010, they lost in the quarterfinals finishing with a record of 9 – 5. That year average attendance dropped to 15,944. Even the four-peat champions once had a hard time filling all the seats. Winning gave people a reason to show up. It is easier to cheer for a winning team.
As for Dragon football, Laqua believes this could be the turning point for the program. The next two games will prove whether it is. If the football team plays meaningful games in November, Laqua hopes that more people around campus will become excited about the team.
Krenske and the rest of the volleyball team could also be playing important games in November as Football and volleyball could end up in the playoffs at the same time. Giving fall sports a boost and the students more to cheer about.