Our football team recently won its first game in over three seasons. To say that my fellow students and I are excited is to say the least. What is truly remarkable about Saturday night’s game is not the long awaited celebration of a win, but rather the passion and excitement that continued before, throughout, and after the game.
A student section had formed (naturally) and as the players took the field, before the game even began, the section began to jump up and down waving the Grove City College rally towels. Chanting proudly, “I believe that we will win!” The anticipation was palpable, but throughout an intense and close game the crowd was passionate and supportive. Two or three students took an unofficial leadership position and called out cheers and pumped up the section. Several times, when the game was paused for a timeout or end of quarter, College president Paul McNulty would lead the student section in cheering, too.
When the cheering died down in an intense moment, but the team needed that extra push, players or coaches on our sideline would turn around and wave up their arms, calling us to cheer, and the crowd would roar in response. The night before the game, an email was sent to the student body saying, “a loud crowd and great atmosphere is an extra player that the opponents cannot account for.” And this certainly proved to be true.
Two minutes before the end of the game Grove City was up, 24-14, and our student body began to go forward, waiting on the track outside of the field ready to celebrate with our team. With 10 seconds left, quarterback Randall LaBrie took a knee and the crowd went wild. As the clock hit 00:00, we ran onto the field in a celebration unlike any other that I have experienced. We sang the alma mater, and then fireworks erupted from the creek behind the field. It was a perfect celebration of a long-awaited win.
This night was indicative of Grove City College culture in two ways:
First, the sportsmanship of our team. The next day I found an aerial view of the post-game cheering on the field and saw that our team put a pause on their celebration in order to promptly shake the hands of our opponents. They did not put this on hold, nor did they forget about this show of respect in the midst of great excitement. In this moment, each of our players showed the nature of their characters.
Second, the celebration of students was unified joy. There was no destruction of personal or school property, there were no hospital trips due to binge drinking or over-excitement of any kind. My friends and I went to a local restaurant for milkshakes to celebrate, as did several other groups of our peers who we saw there. We did not have to sacrifice safety or smart decisions in order to celebrate and have fun.
This win was one for the books, and an excellent example of the Grove City College culture and community overall.