Maroon Platoon: Let’s Get Loud

Alexis R. Apfelbaum

The Colgate 13 strides triumphantly out into the football stadium. Like the Raiders who will take the field in mere moments, they too are uniformed, only they are in white button-downs, with their arms over their hearts. Melodious voices rise, soon to make way for the grunts and glorious smack of body meeting body as the Raiders smash their way to yet another victory. Yet, wait – what is it that seems to be so palpably absent from this huge and beautiful stadium? There are the players in huge shoulder pads and the coaches already growing red in anticipation. There are the refs and their whistles poised upon their lips for the first cherished foul-yet something is missing. The footballers cock their heads; one member of the 13 blows a long breath into the microphone. And then it hits all of them at once: where have all the spectators gone? First-year Tom Oppedisano, a member of the Colgate 13, commented on singing the national anthem before the game: “No one shows up for the football games. When I sang, there were like 10 people in the stands.” Sophomore Megan Sobel agrees: “I do feel bad,” she said, as a failed spectator. “I should definitely go to more sporting events.” Colgate University has begun to rally around what has in recent years become an increasingly big problem, and the response to it is an ebullient cheer: Let’s Get Loud! Enter the Maroon Platoon, Colgate’s incentive program to get fans back in the seats, cheering and making a ruckus as they support their school whooping other schools butts. Shelly Respecki, a physical education instructor and an assistant to the athletic administrators, has taken it upon herself to help the Maroon Platoon get off the ground. “Our goal is to get a sea of maroon,” said Respecki, who believes that it is all about the crowd. “Getting to experience all that enthusiasm and excitement is amazing, as a player, and as a fan.” Indeed, Steven Saulen, a first-year football player said that while there are a lot of spectators out in the stands, “a lot, considering our school and population,” but he still wishes they were a bit louder. Respecki and senior softball player Dorothy Donaldson have been working to not only fill the seats, but also fill the stadium with resounding voices. And though Respecki acknowledges that the Maroon Platoon’s progress has been slow at first, she is quick to add that the building blocks have now been officially set; each week the reception to the Maroon Platoon and to adding spirit at all sporting events has been getting better. Each week the Maroon Platoon picks a Maroon Platoon Game of the Week. Many have already taken advantage of the free T-shirts the Maroon Platoon hands out, and if you wear one of these stylish tops to the game of the week, you get a ticket and a chance to win awesome prizes, including gift certificates to restaurants or for a rustic tan. At one of the games, one lucky and loud fan will be given an MP3 player. “It’s all about getting students involved,” Respecki said of .the Maroon Platoon. Like many at Colgate, she takes great pride in our athletic prowess and believes that all, but especially the underclassmen, should get involved in cheering their team on, whether simply by attending games or by joining the Maroon Platoon itself. (If you are interested, you can email Respecki at [email protected]) There is nothing like being part of a team, and one can do that simply by being a fan and screaming your butt off. Believe me, life becomes worth living when you see the game-winning basket, improbable touchdown, triumphant goal, final run and thrilling ace. So get your Colgate Sweatshirt (and your Maroon-Platoon T-shirt) on along with your gloves, hat and boots- and get out there and start making some noise. See all that Colgate has to offer, including some rocking teams whose breathtaking games are just the thing to get your weekend fun off to a glorious start.