By Kim Glarner
Chatting with some student athletes before a recent game, I noticed quite a few Riverland fans turning out to watch the basketball game against RCTC. Though enthusiastic early on, their enthusiasm eventually waned, and RCTC would go on to win both contests.
Eleven days later, when RCTC took on Minnesota West, the Minnesota West fans also turned out to watch the game. Unlike the Riverland fans, Minnesota West’s fans were enthusiastic throughout, right up until the final buzzer. Both RCTC teams would lose tough ones that evening.
The takeaway I took from those games was that both schools, Riverland and Minnesota West, traveled well.
Now, I realize RCTC students, faculty and staff have other things to do with their time and that RCTC is a commuter campus. But come on!
Yes, students do attend these sporting events. Why not? They’re free with a school ID! Moreover, there are some regulars that attend these games, both women’s and men’s, like Sue Sundlee from the science department, and longtime RCTC president, now retired, Don Supalla. I doubt they’ve missed many games over the years.
Student athletes work hard, week in and week out. I suspect it would be a big lift to them if they were to see more people turning out to watch their games. No, it’s not Big 10 basketball, but it is some really exciting, entertaining basketball. I don’t understand basketball any more than I understand Australian football, but I’m a fan. I’ll still go.
I suspect one main objective of student athletes is to go on and play at the next level, possibly while obtaining a B.A. at a four-year institution. Here’s one example of student athletes’ commitment toward their education: this past semester, Coach Brian LaPlante had 11 of his players make the Dean’s list. The team as a whole registered a very respectable 3.0 GPA. Two of his athletes even attained a 4.0 GPA this past fall.
You see these student athletes all over campus. They’re accessible, they’re personable, and some of these kids are very chatty. RCTC student athletes are simply kids being kids, playing a game that they love. So why not take advantage of that and catch a game or two right here on campus. Three or four hours of some entertaining basketball ñ what’s not to like?
This letter isn’t meant to focus specifically on basketball. Not at all! Attendance at all RCTC’s sporting events is down and has been so for some time now. Turning out to watch some good basketball or any other sport, is one way we as a college community can show our support, not only for these student athletes, but for our college community in general.
One of the aforementioned student athletes I spoke with is on the baseball team. When referring to the Riverland fans, I asked if there were many RCTC fans who came out to watch RCTC’s baseball games? He said no and that it was kind of disappointing. I agreed. That would be disappointing.
Now, am I advocating that people make the effort to attend away games? No. But is Riverland any different than RCTC? Are there any reasons that the attendance couldn’t be larger at RCTC home sporting events?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, but it sure would be nice if more people would turn out to RCTC sporting events here on campus.