Athletic Department Seeks to Increase Student Attendance at Sporting Events
The Athletic Department works to boost student engagement at games and to change the overall atmosphere at games.
When it comes to the subject of athletics engagement at Mississippi College, one thought has swirled around the minds of many MC students, staff, and athletes: “I wish more people showed up.”
Some sports, like volleyball, have seen an increase in student support over the past several years. Those within MC’s athletic programs now seek community support across all sports. Mississippi College is seeking innovative ways to boost attendance at sporting events by fostering a sense of community and involvement among Clintonians and the student body.
New Head Football Coach Hiring
The Mississippi College football program needed a spark coming into 2024. The team has had a losing record for the past three seasons and has not defeated Delta State since 2019. Additionally, with long time head coach John Bland stepping down, the support of MC’s team on the gridiron is at one of its bleaker points in recent memory. Enter Mike Kershaw.
MC’s first hire for head football coach in 10 years comes from Rice University, where he was previously the wide receivers coach for the past five seasons. According to athletic director Kenny Bizot, not only does Kershaw fit the bill of what MC stands for, but he also “is somebody that is going to get our fanbase going. We have to get more boosters and fanbase involvement, and he [Kershaw] has a lot of confidence in what he does and is a dynamic speaker.”
Kershaw has already been active with the students of MC and the community of Clinton. He has scheduled and created a Choctaw football alumni event on Feb. 1 and, according to the social media graphic for the event, wants to “connect the past with the present.” With recruiting season also in full swing, it is an exciting time to be a Choctaw football fan. A new chapter for MC football is about to begin.
Pep Band Introduced
The football team isn’t the only change coming for athletic engagement across campus. During the fall semester, the Department of Music organized a feat that had not been attempted for some time on MC’s campus: a pep band inside the Coliseum. Duval Salvant, who was recently hired to be the director of bands, ran a trial during one of the volleyball games, having his band play inside the Golden Dome. The experience, according to Salvant, was “insane.”
“We were so excited to do this, and we had a whole bunch of volunteers sign up – and then lots drop out the day of because of COVID and different things,” Salvant said. “I almost pulled out, but I said that we have to do this. The group there did a phenomenal job… and it was a good, on-the-spot learning experience.”
Although the band had to skate around obstacles, like learning the pace of the games and adapting their music, this idea is one that Salvant wants to implement more in the future. “We’re pushing,” Salvant said. “We really want something to happen where we have the opportunity to have a marching band setting in the spring semester.” Salvant has already been in contact with basketball coaches and athletic director Bizot about having a live band during spring semester sports.
Increasing the band’s presence at sporting events inside the dome is an effort to elevate the atmosphere and sense of community. “You never know what you're missing until it isn’t there,” Salvant said. “Once we get out there and we show up and sound like we know what we’re doing, people are going to want it more and more.”
Athletic Engagement with the Council
Recognizing the pivotal role that clubs and tribes play in shaping campus culture, the university aims to harness their enthusiasm to create a vibrant atmosphere during games.
With the help of the Council, the governing body over clubs and tribes, sporting event attendance could receive a great boost. The concept, however, is facing pushback. In a meeting with the Council, one idea was put forward about each organization sponsoring an athletic team, but it was shot down, with 38 votes against the idea and only two in favor of it.
“I think the way it was pitched affected the vote and that the overall plan of the idea was not there, which is why it was so lopsided,” Council member Ben Parker said.
Clubs and tribes are one of the main focuses of student life on Mississippi College’s campus. Council Member Bryce Miller said, “I would love to see more of a collaboration between clubs and tribes with athletics, and with new ideas, hopefully it can happen soon.”Thanks for reading Blue & Gold News | Mississippi College! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support our work.
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