What does it mean to be a Tiger? That is a pretty basic question.
It can be a different answer for different groups of people affiliated with Towson University, as there are many roles to be played. Earlier this summer our award-winning Director of New Media and recent addition to our staff, Damon Lewis, put together this video which illustrates the ideals that we push our student-athletes to achieve.
The start to the 2011-12 athletics year at Towson University has been fun, as we have made some great strides...
Coach Greg Paynter's Women's Soccer team started us off on the right foot, literally, with a 2-nil win over Loyola (MD) - our first-ever win over the Greyhounds in that sport.
Coach Roger Erricker's Women's Cross-Country squad has won three meets while graduate student Katie Ogden posted a Towson record time of 18:00.59 to break Buffy Gavigan's 25-year-old record (1986) of 18:01 by one-hundredth of a second to win top individual honors in a field of 76 runners. Katie beat her own personal record by 18 seconds ... WOW!
Coach Bruce Atkinson's Volleyball team is sitting atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings with a 3-1 record in the league and a 16-5 overall mark. Already, the team has eleven (11) 3-game sweeps on the season, including one over defending CAA Champion Delaware.
Coach Michelle Webber's Field Hockey unit has battled some tough teams and posted a nice 3-1 road win over VCU to help set its pace for the CAA campaign to come.
Coach Pat Mead's men and women's swimming/diving teams each launched their seasons with clean sweeps of the 2011 Potomac Relays, a great start as our men build on last year's late season success and our women start their drive for a fifth straight CAA Championship.
And finally there is Coach Rob Ambrose and the nationally-ranked Towson Football team. What a beginning to the season it has been for this bunch, including wins over two Top 25 opponents in the first five games - No. 14 Richmond and then-No. 20 Villanova - programs that won NCAA FCS Football Championships in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
Think about that. Our young and inexperienced Tigers team representing a program that had won only three-games over the last two seasons has already this year topped that win total and beaten two of the last three NCAA Champions. For a group that has 37 of the top 44 players on the roster back for 2012 to be enjoying this success so early in the maturation of the program, it is a fun sight to behold.
And so far, a lot of you have seen these Tigers, as we are averaging close to 9,000 fans per game and will break the all-time Towson Football single-season attendance record when our team plays host to Delaware on October 29 at 7 p.m.
Another great site to behold is the walls that are starting to rise up around the perimeter of Tiger Arena. Every day more steel and concrete come into form as we are a little more than 650 days away from opening the doors. This construction site is a great metaphor for where our athletics program is headed - to the sky, no limits, state-of-the-art and full of potential.
These are only a few of the many examples I could mention, along with how Coach Sonia Lamonica and our women's lacrosse team has topped Loyola (MD) during fall ball ... how Coach Shawn Nadelen's first edition men's lacrosse team has beaten both Michigan and Lehigh while firing in 24 goals in their two games ... how Coach Joe Mathews and his women's basketball group has gone through Navy Seal training with the goal being to mold their collection of newcomers into a TEAM ... how Coach Pat Skerry's men's basketball team is already leading the nation in floor burns after a challenging preseason where culture change is more than 13 letters and three syllables, it's a daily grind.
Again I ask ... what does it mean to be a Tiger?
For our students, it means showing support through attendance at as many campus events as possible. We've had outstanding support through our first two and a half months of the season and for that we are very thankful.
We need MORE students to come to MORE events and stay longer. While many stayed this past Saturday night for a thrilling second-half football finish against Richmond, a large number of students headed for the exits with the team up 14-10 at halftime. Let me assure you that students can make the difference between being a WINNER and a LOSER, especially in the CAA where eight of the 11 teams in the league are nationally ranked.
We need you to Come Early, Be Loud, and Wear Black - EVERY GAME. No one would want the team to coast in at the half, up four, and neither can our critical student fan base. Note that word "base" as our students are the backbone ... the central nervous system of everything we do athletically, academically, and socially on our campus.
Be it football, volleyball, soccer, field hockey, swimming, or any of the other spectator sports that we will engage in over the year of competition ... STUDENTS SET THE TONE! Make the most of this time in your life and BE A HOME ADVANTAGE FOR YOUR TIGERS.
For our alumni and sidewalk fans, it also means showing your support at home and on the road. If you have noticed the opposing fan followings from the schools that have come in to the football games at Unitas Stadium this year, you have picked up that none of them have been there in any real numbers to support their team.
I did however see about 40 percent of the crowd at Byrd Stadium in College Park cheering for Towson, which unofficially has to be the largest gathering of Tiger Fans at any one place in the 145-year history of our University. On that day, YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE.
As our Tiger teams head out on road games throughout the balance of the 2011-12 seasons and beyond, it is my dream that Towson Fans, young and old, hop in their cars and make road trips to support the Black & Gold.
Back when I was in high school in Asheville, N.C., the biggest sports weekend of the year in our town was when the Southern Conference Basketball Tournament would roll into town. It was a great atmosphere, and one fan group stood miles above the rest in how they made an impact on the local economy, and especially on the competitive environment - Marshall University. No other school in that league had a throng of fans like Marshall. They came by the car load ... the bus load ... all decked out in Green and cheering loud and proud for their team.
My dream for Towson University is that our over 100,000 alumni and current students, faculty and staff all come together as ONE TOWSON in support all of our teams. That starts with this coming weekend at Old Dominion (Saturday, October 15 at 3:30 pm) as our football Tigers are the "Homecoming" opponent vs. a first-year Monarchs team that is ranked higher in the national polls than we are.
There is no greater disrespect than to be selected as someone's homecoming opponent, and over the next two weeks of this football season Towson is the chosen Homecoming opponent at ODU and William & Mary (Oct. 22). I urge you to take this to heart and make plans this week to attend these games. The ODU game is a SELLOUT, but tickets can be found on the secondary ticket market online here:
You can buy your tickets to the game at William & Mary on Saturday, October 22 at 3:30 p.m. by clicking here.
Winning at home is great, but winning on the road is perhaps even sweeter as you get to enjoy the ride home in a good mood while sending the other fans home in a bad mood.
We also have two remaining home football games on Saturday, October 29 at 7 p.m. against Delaware and Saturday, November 12 at a time to be determined against New Hampshire. Tickets are available by calling the Towson University Athletics Ticket Office at 1-855-TU-TIGER or by ordering online at TowsonTigers.com.
We anticipate the largest crowd in the history of Towson Football for the Delaware game, so please get your tickets now and make you plans to COME EARLY, BE LOUD, AND WEAR BLACK.
Finally, this column started out with a video and it will end with one too.
Earlier I asked you what it meant to be a Tiger. The answer is that whether you are on the field, in the stands, or cheering from afar ... you are IN THE GAME. You are committed to helping YOUR TEAM achieve great things.
This video will illustrate the purpose of our Tiger Club.
Simply put, if you care about WINNING ... if you are someone who takes PRIDE IN YOUR ALMA MATER ... if you are a person who believes that SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS, then I am issuing a call to you to join our Tiger Club and help us in a our drive to build a championship athletics program here at Towson University.
We cannot do it without your support. You can join the Tiger Club for as little as $50 a year. Please visit www.TheTigerClub.net and learn more about the many ways that you can BE A PART OF THE TEAM.
Our University is behind our Athletics program with strong support. I appreciate the partnerships that we have built over my first year here at Towson and look forward to creating more championship relationships on and off campus.
Our goal is clear in Towson Athletics: EXPECT SUCCESS and ACHIEVE GREATNESS in the classroom and in the many athletics endeavors.
We need you as a part of the team ... we need every one of you to BE A TIGER!
Enroll your kids, nephews, nieces, grandkids, the little kid across the street into the Junior Tiger Club by clicking here.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR TOWSON UNIVERSITY!!!
Thanks so much for your support.