There’s a new team making noise at Golden Gymnasium and it’s not the sound of volleyball spikes reverberating off the walls during PLNU’s collegiate volleyball team practices.
Team Emilio, which is composed of 10 freshmen and one sophomore, is one of 10 teams in the intramural B league. They have garnered an average crowd turnout of 20-30 students per game—a very rare occurrence for intramural sports on campus. In one past instance, the team saw 50 people in the stands during one of their season games.
Alisa Ward, director of intramurals, is responsible for managing a full staff –primarily referees – for intramural leagues as well as regulating open gym hours. Ward said this is the largest fan following for any team this semester.
“Fifty people is huge; I don’t know how they became that popular,” said Ward. “But it’s good, it’s fun and it brings more people into the gym.”
The team hasn’t always had a large fan base, however, the large influx of fans occured about halfway through the season. Co-captain Brock Lusky said their ‘advertising techniques,’ which included taping a bed sheet above the entrance of Klassen Hall with their team name on it, were an important factor to their success.
“At the beginning, it was just word of mouth; that was kind of the advertising,” said Lusky. “And then we did the table [in the Klassen lobby] with little printer pieces of paper [of their team name] taped to it and then we got the bed sheets. After that, we told people we were going to give away free shirts, and then for this next week, we have flyers that we’re going to give out.”
The team’s recent popularity comes at a time after men’s basketball intramurals experienced a shift in the amount of players participating in different competitive leagues. In 2012, the A league experienced a significantly reduced amount of sign-ups after two athletes from the basketball team elected to play. This caused many teams to eventually withdraw from the league. Senior Delaney Cassidy, director of the B League, said this caused a large movement from the ‘A’ to ‘B’ league.
“Two of our main players on our actual basketball team were redshirting, and we also had an alumni that was playing,” said Cassidy. “And since they were both playing on different teams, [it] was OK, but it made it really hard for any other team to want to compete with them because they [the other teams] would just get blown out of the water.”
Cassidy said Team Emilio’s popularity could be a great means of bringing players back to intramurals in general.
“I am hoping that it encourages other teams’ friends to come and support them, because who wants to be playing there and not having any fans?” said Cassidy. “And you know it’s a lot of fun. They’re a fun team to watch and I think if people see the hype that comes with playing, then they’ll definitely want to join in next year.”
Team Emilio will be playing tonight in their first-round playoff game as the second seed.