The Garnet Tide Fan Club (GTFC) is already starting to make an impact on Swarthmore’s athletic community as more people attended this weekend’s men’s soccer game than any game in recent memory. The club, created by Gavin Nurick ’07 and Jay Charles ’07, hosted its first tailgate party this Saturday. An estimated 30 to 40 people attended and later flocked over to Clothier Field to watch the men’s soccer team play Franklin & Marshall (see sports below for coverage of the game). The crowd at the game was composed of an estimated 280 fans (according to the Swarthmore Athletics Department Website), a number greater than any men’s soccer event ranging back to 2000 (the first season with archived online results).
According to Nurick, the club was created as “something to promote Swarthmore athletics” and to “increase Tide Pride.” They are hoping to get more people to attend games and also, according to Charles, “are trying to bride the gap to get more non-athletes out” to athletic contests. Nurick and Charles felt that the men’s soccer team’s recent success provided a perfect opportunity to start up the GTFC. The founders of the club hope to host more tailgates, advertise in Sharples, and arrange for transportation to Swat vs. Haverford games at Haverford in order to increase attendance and get people to become more involved.
Nurick and Charles have come up with a variety of ideas that they hope to implement in the near future through the GTFC. According to Charles, they plan to design t-shirts for fans “to make a ‘Tide of Garnet’ up in the stands,” which they hope to be ready for when the men’s soccer team hosts Haverford on October 30. In addition, the group would like to get youth in the Swarthmore community more involved, for example, through organizing time for children to play soccer, shoot hoops, and participate in other sports during halftime periods.
Another goal of the GTFC is to contact alumni/ae in order to set up an alumni/ae branch of the club. Nurick notes, “A student initiated fan club can be important for alumni because it shows a lot of optimism from student athletes.” Nurick and Charles believe that having such a club can give alums a better impression of the athletic community at Swarthmore.
The GTFC also hopes to be able to help coaches in recruiting student athletes. Nurick said, “In partnership with coaches, we would develop a letter we could send out to admitted recruited athletes congratulating them and telling them about the student-athlete community at Swarthmore.” He added that it could be “a huge plus for our recruiting efforts” since such letters are probably not common among fan clubs of other schools.
The GTFC was able to obtain $40 in SAC funding for this past Saturday’s tailgate and obtained meal numbers from students in an attempt to arrange a pack-out with Sharples, but according to Nurick, an excess of groups had already set up pack-outs with the dining hall. Charles and Nurick were able to obtain some donations from those who attended their event but hope to get more funding or set up a pack-out through Dining Services for their next tailgate.
The GTFC decided to hold their first event for a men’s soccer game since the team has done so well this season. When asked to comment on this year’s team, co-captain Alex Elkins ’06 said, “I feel we are a lot more dynamic up front. We have greater depth in every position on the field, with many more talented players. We also have great team chemistry on and off the field, which is essential.” Elkins noted that having tailgates would bring more fans to the game and that the presence of fans “gets the other team off their rhythm and gets us revved up.”
Other members of the soccer team have already responded very positively to the formation of the fan club and its hope to increase attendance at games. Matt Schiller, a sophomore on the team, said, “I think having fans at games gets everyone pumped up. I love playing in front of a big crowd; it just makes everything more fun.” According to soccer player Colton Bangs ’07, “We would love to fill the ‘football team void’ that is pretty evident here at Swat, and make Saturday night soccer games something that the troops can rally around and start their nights off with.”
Several soccer players already agree that tailgates and related activates would be beneficial. Schiller noted, “The one thing we’re really missing at Swat is a real college sports atmosphere, so this should help create some of that.” Bangs added, “Adding a party aspect to the game should hopefully entice the non-sports fans to come out and just put everyone in good spirits for the kickoff.”
Nurick and Charles, who also add that they are open to other names for their fan club, hope to get more people involved, especially for the spring when their own lacrosse season starts. The GTFC is planning another tailgate for October 23 for when the men’s soccer hosts McDaniel and for the following Saturday when the team hosts Haverford for their final regular season contest.