NAU Football winning, fans losing
Northern Arizona University (NAU) is not normally a recognized competitor in the Big Sky Conference, however, this season, the NAU football team currently has a record of six wins and one loss.
Typically, winning streaks bring an abundance of fans. The numbers of attendance in total has decreased, but the energy of the students has made up for it.
“We are averaging close to 3,000 students per game,” said Rocky Silvestri, assistant athletic director of sales and marketing said. “That’s more students than we have ever averaged at this university.”
Though the total numbers in attendance appears to have lessened this year, the opposing teams may be a contributor to that.
“We have played less familiar teams, some teams that have just joined the conference,” Silvestri said. “I think our community involvement is good, but can absolutely be better.”
The school has continued to promote games with different pre-game activity options, including tailgating in the Walkup Skydome parking lot.
“Were trying to get people to understand the Lumberjacks are for real this year; we are going for a conference championship,” Silvestri said. “We are in third place in the conference. It’s been a long time, but people need to know we are for real this year.”
The Skydome is designed to hold more than 10,000 people; the students have been consistent about filling their section, and that is seen by players on the field.
According to head coach Jerome Souers, the energy of the crowd makes a huge difference. Players usually look forward to home games, with those in attendance serving as vocal support.
“If our student crowds are cheering when the players are tired and fatigued on the field, it gives them a rush of adrenaline and helps them play better,” Souers said.
“I think in this league, it’s rare to have a really strong fan support base, but it can give you a huge advantage at home,” said senior quarterback Cary Grossart. “It means a lot to us to play in a Skydome that’s loud and passionate on Saturdays.”
Due to past years of loss, this year’s consistent success was unanticipated. Souers states the improvement is due to a few different factors.
“Maturity, [mixed] in with some more experience [are factors],” Souers said. “Our level of excellence and execution is much better.”
The football season is more than halfway through, and NAU is leading the conference with the fewest number of penalties in their division.
Most games this season have not been held at home, and the team has been forced to overcome the power of the negative noise from the opposing.
With two more home games, the team hopes for a continuous winning streak and further support from the students and community.