Home is Where the Heart Is: In Depth with UCI’s Diamond Darlings
As you make your way through the ticket booths at Anteater Ballpark, you are greeted with a burst of energy that electrifies the crowd and entertains fans throughout the game.
That vibe starts and ends with the Diamond Darlings, an animated, student-run organization that helps spread awareness of all things current with the UCI baseball team across campus.
The Diamond Darlings have been actively supporting UC Irvine’s baseball team since the 2006 season and have become the official main UCI baseball spirit team. The development of Diamond Darlings has taken off since their involvement with UCI’s baseball team, as they are now comprised of over 30 passionate girls who love the game of baseball.
The club contributes to the ‘Eaters home games by passing out programs with up-to-date information of the visiting team and the home favorite Anteaters. They keep the crowd energized throughout the game by giving away pizza to the loudest sections, asking trivia questions to fans, and even directing the seventh inning stretch, a traditional break during the middle of the game.
Although a majority of their contribution to the club is during home games, they have began to make an impact within the Orange County community, working with community outreach programs like little league opening ceremonies to help spread the word of UCI baseball and promote youth physical activity. It is by working with the community outreach programs that the Diamond Darlings advertise baseball events and giveaways, as well as summer camps for the youth.
Vice President of Recruitment, fourth-year Darlie Teichera, touched upon the Diamond Darling’s relationship with the community.
“We really target everyone when they come into the stadium. It doesn’t matter if they’re little kids that we’re giving tattoos to, regular athletes parents that we see all the time and get to (build) relationships with or even students. We’re able to find a common ground with everyone and cultivate relationships with them,” Teichera said.
Tiechera also went on to stress the importance of fans’ involvement with the baseball program and believes the fans are one of the main reasons why the Diamond Darlings were formed.
“With the baseball program having been taken away previously, it’s important for us to build a really strong core fan base. The majority of what Diamond Darlings do is help rally and build that fan base by helping out in the community and doing things on campus to build more awareness about the baseball program,” Tiechera said.
Although you see the Diamond Darlings cheering on the ‘Eaters at all home games, the Diamond Darlings are more than just cheerleaders of the baseball team, as their involvement with the team has lead to close interactions with the UCI athletics department and has proven to be good business practice with other professionals.
“We’re closely intermingled with sports marketing. The thing that we usually get is that we’re just cheerleaders for the baseball team. But we’re so much more than that, we get marketing experiences, learn about public relations and work with small businesses for advertisements,” second-year vice president of public relations, Aryana Valdivia, said.
The suspension of the baseball program back in 1992 really encouraged the members of the Diamond Darlings to actively dedicate time in ensuring everyone on campus knows of the baseball team. The recent success of the baseball team reaching at least the NCAA Super Regionals eight out of the last ten seasons certainly has helped establish a core fan base, but the Diamond Darlings are still striving for more.
The Diamond Darlings help the athletic department with advertising game promotions and last year contributed to the home night firework shows on Friday nights by holding fundraisers at local eateries in Irvine.
Perhaps the most enriching part of being a Diamond Darling is the ability to be surrounded by people who share a similar passion and have the same mentality of fostering Anteater pride campus wide. Practicing networking skills and giving back to the community encourages the club to keep developing.
“The best part of being a Diamond Darling is walking the kids on the field. Seeing the little kids get so excited to be around older players, and practicing on a professional field. It’s really cool to see their reactions and their faces light up when they look at the stands,” Teichera said
The Diamond Darlings have currently completed their selection process for the upcoming 2015 baseball season, but are always accepting applications to give back to the organization and the community. Look for the Diamond Darlings near the entrance gate of Anteater Ballpark February 27th as the men’s baseball team kick off the start of their season against Tennessee and for all subsequent home games as well.