Students seek to increase attendance and enthusiasm at sporting events
Sports | Jared Nelson for The Clarion
BSI is attempting to bring more enthusiasm and energy to the stands at Bethel sporting events. | Drea Chalmers
A new program is gaining steam as two students, in conjunction with the athletic department and Bethel Student Activities, have begun the Bethel Spirit Initiative. Through BSI, Ben Fernlund and Chris Van Sickle plan to raise school spirit and increase attendance at home sporting events.
The idea for BSI began at the homecoming football game, when – until the miraculous ending – Fernlund and Van Sickle noticed a genuine lack of enthusiasm among the student spectators.
“No one seemed to be leading any cheers, and it almost just felt like there was this awkward commotion going on in the stands,” Fernlund said. “After the game, we talked and decided that something should be done to increase spirit at the games.”
Shortly thereafter, Fernlund and Van Sickle set up a meeting with athletic director Bob Bjorklund and a few representatives from the student body and BSA. This meeting resulted in a direction for BSI.
“First, we want to increase spirit at games through more cheers and student involvement," Fernlund said. "Second, we’re trying to increase student knowledge of sporting events taking place on campus through advertisements and promotions. And finally, we just want to give the students a real sense of identity within our school.”
BSI is rallying around the phrase “We are Royals” to develop an identity and promote unity as a university. They want students to identify with the teams they’re supporting and find purpose in attendance and participation.
One of the ways that BSI is planning to raise energy and enthusiasm at games is through the implementation of “Superfans.” The concept is a new one for Fernlund and Van Sickle, but they have high expectations for these potential Superfans.
They would like the Superfans to be present at as many games as possible, doing what they can to increase enthusiasm and heighten the sense of school pride and unity.
“We envision the Superfans promoting athletic events to all of their friends to build awareness and excitement,” Fernlund said. “Also, they would be expected to work with other Superfans to lead cheers, get the student section pumped, and build a sense of identity as Royals.”
Fernlund said he has received a tremendous response from the student body thus far, and he added that he was not alone in thinking that the student sections lacked luster at times.
“Through our emails, we have heard from some excited people who would like to be Superfans,” Fernlund said. “However, we can always use more and would like anyone interested to email or talk to us and to spread the word to their friends.”
Fernlund and Van Sickle hope Superfans and BSI become staples at Bethel and that future students carry them on for years.
“Chris and I know that this is much bigger than the two of us, and we want to see this sustained and carried on long after we leave Bethel,” Fernlund said.
If you’re interested in being a Superfan at a sporting event, or if you have questions about how to get involved with BSI, contact Ben Fernlund at email@example.com or Chris Van Sickle at firstname.lastname@example.org.