Success on the football field draws large student crowds at Towson

Posted: October 23, 2013 in Misc.
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Johnny Unitas Stadium is home to the Towson Tigers football team. The stadium seats 11,198 spectators and has a nearly 5,000 seat student section. (Photo by: Ron Miller/TU Student)

The thousands of students who fill the enormous section designated strictly for Tigers fans create colored spectrums of black and yellow. Red solo cups, simply relics of a raucous tailgate from hours earlier, are crushed by students rushing to the ticket booth, hoping there procrastination did not cost them a free voucher into today’s game.

The video scoreboard plays an exciting montage of highlights from past seasons and the crowd eagerly awaits the entrance of their Towson Tigers.

Fifth-year head coach Rob Ambrose leads the charge as his Tigers sprint through the gigantic inflatable football helmet located in the right end zone. Fireworks explode in the background.  It’s game day at Unitas Stadium and the students of Towson University could not be more excited.

Currently ranked No. 2 in the nation in the FCS College Football Coaches Poll and possessing an impressive 5-0 record, Towson Football is looking to put together one of the most successful seasons in their history. Deservedly so, this recent upswing in on-field performance has resulted in another positive for Tigers’ football, a sold-out student section at every home game so far this year.

Johnny Unitas Stadium, home of Towson football, seats an impressive 11,198 spectators, making it one of the largest stadiums in the Colonial Athletic Association conference. In years past, when Towson was not fairing so well in the college football standings, empty seats frustratingly riddled Unitas Stadium.

However, so far this season these same empty seats are a rare find in the stadium’s nearly 5,000-seat student section. According to many students the football team’s winning ways have allowed them to passionately rally behind a winning cause.

Lauren Harrison, a junior at Towson, cites the team’s current hot streak and the student’s attendance at home games as a great positive for the university as a whole.

“It’s really great to see everyone coming out to the games,” Harrison said, “I think most importantly it shows that we have pride not only in our team, but in our school.”

“I’ve had people come up to me when I’m wearing my Towson hoodie and ask about our football team,” Harrison added, “It’s cool to get that kind of recognition.”

Sam Padham, a sophomore at Towson, shares a similar sentiment.

“When we’re winning like we are it kind of puts us on a national stage as far as football is concerned,” Padham said, “When the games are televised it’s nice to show that we have a dedicated student body that really cares about the team.”

Conversely, the rise in attendance this year at football games has had some negative effects.

“With more and more students coming to each game you have to be prepared to deal with some potential problems,” says Adam Weaver, an Events and Conference Staff Manager at Towson University.

“There are always some students that see the exciting environment inside and outside of the stadium and use that as an excuse to act inappropriately or carry themselves in a way that is harmful to themselves or others,” Weaver said, “Safety is always the main concern and it is the responsibility of myself and the event staff to make sure nothing goes wrong.”

Weaver also added that the current increase in attendance has caused him to expand the number of students he hires for the event staff.

“By attending the games in large numbers the students are actually helping themselves,” Weaver explained, “The more students that come to the games the more students I need to work on the event staff, it opens up some employment opportunities for students who are searching.”

The recent upward trend in student attendance shows no real sign of stopping considering Towson’s upcoming football schedule.

“The games against Delaware and James Madison are probably going to be the craziest ones yet,” said Chuck Dix, a senior at Towson.

“I remember my freshman year when our team was pretty bad and not many people went to the games,” Dix said, “It’s good to see how far we’ve come. I have some friends that go to big football schools like West Virginia and University of Maryland so I’m glad that I can have a similar experience at our games.”

Back on game day, the Towson football team dashes onto the field. The yellow and black blaze of color given off by Towson’s jerseys match the yellow and black collage of t-shirts present in the student section. The students scream and shout in anticipation of what they can only hope is another Tiger victory.

Three Towson players continue their sprint all the way to the first row of the student section. Towson’s mascot Doc the Tiger joins a group of students who welcome the players with hugs and high fives. Evidence of not only a gracious football program, but also a blossoming relationship between a team and its fans.

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