By Jeff Brown
During the 1990s, Youngstown State University Athletics was in the national spotlight. Interest in the football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball programs were at an all-time high, but fans saw pedestrian seasons in the turn of the century.
Outside the native Youngstown fans that still remember the golden years of YSU athletics, the attendance of Penguin fans has dropped, and the presence of the student body isn’t what it used to be.
In an effort to raise student attendance at athletic events, the Penguin Club — in cooperation with YSU Athletics — is putting together a student fan club.
For a small fee, students will receive a YSU Under Armour dry fit T-shirt, access to pregame tailgates, eligibility for raffles and other items yet to be determined. The first club-sponsored tailgate will take place Sept. 12 in the M7 parking lot, before YSU football’s first home game against Robert Morris University.
One goal of the fan club is to not only generate student attendance, but to also keep students at the games throughout their entirety. During past football games, attendance would be high for the first half of the games, but would dissipate by the second half when crowd noises could be a deciding factor.
Sean Meditz, a YSU Student Fan Club committee member, discussed this goal.
“We have no problem getting students there, but it’s after the second half when it’s cold or we’re losing or something where they don’t want to stay,” Meditz said. “We’re focusing on half time games where we select students out and they participate and they might win something.”
The club wants to make its presence felt at all YSU sporting events, not just football games. The YSU men’s and women’s basketball games have also had attendance problems over the past few seasons.
Bryce Miner, another YSU Student Fan Club committee member, said that the fan club should bring involvement to all YSU athletic teams.
“Any kind of involvement our students have, whether it be for football, basketball, volleyball or any sport that we have — it’s going to be great. We’re actually planning one big sports event for every team that we have here,” Miner said.
Miner hopes that the fan club will be able to create a tradition at YSU that will hold up for years to come.
“We’re at a unique time here at YSU. We have a lot of momentum going on right now with President [Jim] Tressel, and Bo Pelini coming in as our football coach,” Miner said. “We want to create the tradition. And I think that’s something that we’re here to do. Create something that’s going to be here a long time.”
Committee member Carly Burgdorf thinks the fan club is something that will attract students who want to be a part of a game day tradition.
“I think a lot of people have been waiting for something like this, and we want to finally bring it to students. [We’ll] have that official fan club or student section to look forward to being a part of,” Burgdorf said.
Information on joining the YSU Student Fan Club can be found on twitter @ysufanclub, on Facebook at YSU Student Fan Club and on Instagram at YSU Student Fan Club.