Coastal Carolina officially became an FBS program in Division I football on Saturday, taking on Massachusetts in Conway at Brooks Stadium in front of 13,257 people, the largest attendance in Coastal Carolina history.
This also was the first game in the newly expanded Brooks Stadium, which added over 5,000 seats in order to meet the NCAA attendance requirement that all-new FBS programs are supposed to meet.
While the energy was definitely electrifying and the crowd certainly played a factor in Saturday’s game, the big question is: can this be kept up?
More importantly, can the student section keep up?
For years, student attendance has always been a hit or miss. Students will show up for a half and regardless of the score halftime, whether it was a close game or a blowout, they would book out to wherever they were going for the rest of their Saturday night.
Kelly Moore, associate director of development of the Chanticleer Athletic Foundation and a former cheerleader at Coastal, talked about what it was like going to games as a student and how much attendance means to the players.
“When I was here at Coastal, I had the honor of being a part of the inaugural season of Coastal Carolina football,” said Moore. “I was a cheerleader and I had several friends on the football team and each week after home games they would tell me that it makes a huge difference having the fans and the students there cheering us on. It really means a lot to these players to see their peers and their community in the stands making noise for them on every single down.”
With that being said, the message is clear. We need our students at these games now more than ever. Come early, be loud and stay—that is what the student body needs to do. Ever since it was announced that Coastal Carolina accepted the invitation to join the Sun Belt conference on Sept. 1, 2015, the Department of Athletics, University officials, coaches and especially the players have been working hard to be ready for this moment and make Teal Nation proud.
“The guys on the field have been relentless in getting ready for that first game,” said Moore. “One of the great factors to the fan experience is the players putting their heart and soul out there on the field.”
There will be more fans interactions such as giveaways and video board interactions.
“Much like I was able to be a part of the inaugural season of football, these students will able to look back and say I was a part of the inaugural year of FBS football,” Moore said. “These students can now say that they were a part of a new era in the great tradition that is Coastal Carolina football.”
It is a time where Coastal football is rising to the occasion to make Teal Nation proud and make themselves known in their new conference. The question is: will the students rise to the occasion too?