So Much For Homefield Advantage, Step it Up Antourage

Duke basketball has the Cameron Crazies, who never sit down. Pittsburg Steelers’ fans wave the Terrible Towel. These fans understand that they are an extension of the game and have the potential to inspire the difference between a win and a loss.

What does UC Irvine have? An Antourage and ’Eater Nation that, at times, have shown the ability to make an impact, but for the majority of the time, fail to impress.

For some strange reason, the majority of students, staff, faculty and the Irvine community fail to realize the impact that they can make on UC Irvine Athletics.

On Friday, Nov. 12, in the NCAA Tournament’s first round women’s soccer matchup that featured the Arizona State Sun Devils and the UCI Anteaters, a record 1,058 fans packed Anteater Stadium. Several wore their UCI apparel. However, despite outnumbering ASU’s fans, Antourage and ’Eater Nation were inconspicuous early on in the game.
Some of this had to do with the fact that the Sun Devils scored early, and the Lady Anteaters could not capitalize in the first half to find the equalizing goal.

Two ASU fans wore nothing but sports bras and sweatpants, painting their exposed skin with red and yellow on a very cold night. These two fans pumped up the ASU side, and when they cheered for ASU on the home side of Anteater Stadium, only a few fans from the Irvine faithful decided to boo.

This is what needs to change. As fans we cannot be a crowd full of pushovers, where the visiting crowd is able to walk all over us. We must be an intimidating force and stick up not only for our teams, but also for ourselves.
The first half of the soccer match featured a fan base full of individuals who attended the game but failed to show up. In the first half, the Irvine faithful seemed uninspired and apathetic toward the game.

However, midway through the second half, two UCI students, Vanessa Houston and Tyler Kenney, decided that they were going to ignite the crowd by starting chants and holding up their signs. Houston and Kenney pumped up the crowd with the help of Tanya Taylor’s personal cheering section, which consisted of Christina Deltondo, Kelsi Layana, Lauren Figueroa and Emily Shawesh.

Once the crowd erupted, it translated to the performance of the Lady Anteaters. After being down for most of the first half and much of the second half, the Anteaters came up big in the 72nd and 74th minutes.

When sophomore Devon Delarosa scored the first Anteater goal, the crowd went crazy. The Lady Anteaters fed off this energy and two minutes later Delarosa scored the game-winning goal, sending Antourage and ’Eater Nation into delirium.
“When [the fans] got into the game, it pumped us up, it got our adrenaline going. It made us work that much harder. It helped us make that last run when we thought we couldn’t make it,” Alyssa Humphrey said.

For those who attended the game, you saw firsthand the effects that a strong cheering section can have on a game. For those who left at halftime, you missed a great comeback and for those who did not bother to show up, you missed one hell of a game.

The effort that was displayed during the second half of Friday night’s game is the effort that needs to be displayed during every home match. It is this type of effort that propels teams to wins over conference rivals, comeback victories in pressure-packed playoff moments and, ultimately, championship soccer.

There is no excuse for not showing up to UCI athletic events. For every student, regular season tickets are free – and we live in a world where nothing is free – so take advantage of it. And for those who have to pay, a ticket for a UCI sporting event is not expensive.

It is frustrating when year in and year out, UC Irvine athletics proves to everyone that they can compete on a national stage, but a majority of the Irvine community fails to show their support.

Without the help of a strong fan base, UC Irvine will be at a disadvantage when chasing national championships.
Everyone is excited about Russell Turner and the new look Anteaters. If the basketball team is going to be relevant in the Big West and attempt to earn a bid in the Big Dance, then the Antourage and ’Eater Nation need to fill every seat in the Bren.

If John Speraw and company win another national title in men’s volleyball, it will likely be for one of many reasons. Having a crowd that can propel our team over the opposition in our hostile atmosphere would be monumental. The baseball team could use a strong supporting cast in attempting to return to the College World Series this year.

The responsibility does not solely fall on the fans. It also falls on the band that needs to learn a  better variety of songs to fire up the crowd. It also falls on the shoulders of our marketing team that needs to find creative ways to get the Irvine community to attend home games.

In one form or another we all need to step up. We are all connected to UC Irvine athletics. So let’s be the difference and propel UCI to new heights.