Last semester, I wrote a Timeout that was, to say the least, critical of the Tech student body.
I was frustrated by our apparent lack of interest in Tech athletics. Perhaps I would have understood if the Jackets were a bottom-feeder, but our football team was highly regarded, our volleyball team was on its way to unprecedented success and our basketball team had a new, exciting head coach.
Perhaps it wasn’t as a direct result of that piece, but our student body has at least somewhat answered the call. And I’m thankful for that.
I was at home a few weekends ago and found myself watching the Tech-Notre Dame basketball game. I knew that we realistically had a relatively small chance of winning. I was shocked to see the line of fans waiting outside of McCamish Pavilion before the game. (Yes, the free replica Jarrett Jack Jerseys were no doubt an incentive, but it was nonetheless an impressive feat.)
That energy continued over into the game, as commentators repeatedly noted the intensity of the Jackets’ crowd, a group that supported its team with more fervor than President Donald Trump’s aides during his recent speech to the CIA.
The crowd made a difference. It rattled a Notre Dame team that found itself in an unexpected fight with the Jackets, and it erupted when Josh Okogie scored the game-winning layup as the buzzer sounded. It was an asset, a weapon, a force.
Yes, McCamish has a long, long way to go before any reasonable viewer starts making Cameron Crazies comparisons, but this is a good start. Last year, Tech ranked behind colleges such as Bradley, Siena and Texas El-Paso in attendance. At least per the eye test, that may have changed.
At home, the Jackets have beaten the Tar Heels, the Seminoles and the Fighting Irish among others. Those statements will be the crux of the Jackets’ case when it comes to the NCAA Tournament (discussed elsewhere in this section.) My hope is that an accomplish like that would only further motivate Tech fans to attend sporting events.
I’ve always believed that one key tenet of the Tech experience is never resting on your laurels. There is always another mark to beaten, another precedent to be set. (Much to my chagrin, there is virtually always another WebAssign to be completed, too.)
Our participation in Tech’s athletic culture should be no exception to this rule. With baseball season looming, spring intramurals in full swing and the swimming and diving team preparing to host the ACC Championships, it is crucial now as much as ever that Tech fans support their Jackets. No, our apparel deal isn’t the best. No, the Jackets will probably never have the non-alumni fan base of their in-state rivals. But that’s all the more reason to cheer a little louder, chant the praises of your team, and perhaps hoist Josh Pastner on your shoulders when Tech defies the odds and wins the NCAA Tournament.