The end of the 2013-2014 basketball season came with calls for Augustinian Army reform, starting with better planning for chants and a larger student attendance. After some off-season planning, those changes will become a reality. Last night the Augustinian Army held a general body meeting, and 50 of the over 200 interested students attended. President Jake Echoff, senior, and vice president Emma Taylor, junior, lead the meeting by outlining the new hierarchy of the student section. The agenda also included brainstorming ideas for Jalen Brunson's upcoming visit.
"For the last three years it's been a group of probably five of us who were really working hard on everything," said Jake when asked about the reason for reform, adding that he "was one of the last two who hasn't graduated, so [he] really needed to set something up for the continued existence of the group." Jake commented that it was hard to get any strong backing for any one particular idea for the Augustinian Army because there would be "three of us working on something and not a whole lot of other people really knowing what to do. Myself, Emma and Willy [Annan], a fellow senior, decided to break it down more formally into specific groups or committees and have certain roles for [each.]"
Emma shared the four new components of the student section and described the jobs of each.
Game Day Community
This group is the one that gives the game day experience more order and influence. "The game day committee will be in charge of leading chants in the student section on game day." She added that this group will also include "people working behind the scenes, doing stuff such as the signs we had last year, passing those out, and if we can get foam fingers, pom-poms, and towels they would be passed out too. Basically just to make it look awesome and have a great game day atmosphere."
Miscommunication was a major issue for students last year in that they would not attend meetings or were unaware of popular recruiting visits/game watches/other events on campus. This faction will resolve that issue. Emma described their job as "getting as many students on campus involved in what [the Augustinian Army] is doing, whether it's letting them know about games coming up or if it's getting them to pep rallies and more excited about pep rallies." She added that this group will also spread news of "game watches, events like whiteouts, stuff like that," which all went over relatively well last year, so it is good to see those events being thought of again. Last season, students had some game watches in the Connelly Center, most notably the game at the Georgetown Hoyas and both rounds of the NCAA Tournament. This group can get game watches for ALL away games, or at least the games most students cannot attend.
The two made it clear that this group support all Wildcat athletics and not just the basketball team. "We want to cover the student section spirit for all sports," noted Emma. "We had someone approach us at the activities fair who was a soccer fanatic. He wanted to get a group started that regularly goes to soccer games and goes crazy because currently the soccer game attendance is pretty small. If we can do the same with football or any other sport that wants us to help them pack their student section, we want to help them any way we can."
This body is one I personally would not have thought of, yet will prove to be very important. This committee "will be working with athletics to make sure [the AA] is doing what it's supposed to be doing, like following rules but also helping the basketball team by making sure we're spreading spirit and helping them in any way we can." This group will help for two very big reason. One, as mentioned, is following the rules. The Athletic Department will be cautious as to what the student section decides regarding chants, cutouts and rollouts as to not give the school a negative image. The second reason for this group is that, if the AD sees the AA being respectful with little or no issues, there will be eventual trust built between the two sides and they will be more lenient with what they will allow during games and throughout campus. Direct access to the Athletic Department will be key in planning huge events and getting as many people possible to attend.
This final group is another group I failed to consider, yet will also prove necessary. "It's something we haven't done in the past," Emma commented, explaining that "it will be working with alumni as well as local businesses to get them to sponsor stuff like whiteout t-shirts, events, or whatever else they feels like getting involved with. We want to get them involved with everything that's going on on-campus."
The Alumni Relations will be a valuable resource to the Augustinian Army as funding for the club is dangerously low. "Our club technically has $200 in the budget which isn't too much but that's because we haven't really used it in the past." Jake replied when asked about club funding. He added that "there was a basketball club five years ago that sort of dissolved, but we basically became that, so we have some funding from that but it's hard to get access to that money now." Businesses in the surrounding area are usually open to donations or supplying resources for events as a source of advertising, so this club can really stretch that $200 allowance.
Jalen Brunson visit
There are currently two rallies planned for Brunson, one on Friday and one Saturday. Jake shared that "Friday afternoon there will be a team lunch at Cafe` Nova, at 12:30 and he'll be there. We'll be creating a Facebook group for that to spread it. If you're at Cafe` Nova at 12:30 we can get a "We want Brunson" chant and people could go say hi to him. We're hoping to get someone in the quad to put up a sign like "We love Jalen."
The other rally for Jalen will take place on Saturday at 11:30am. There is a Blue vs. White scrimmage in Jake Nevin and the plan is to have a packed house to cheer Jalen and the rest of the team on. With so much school spirit and such a small sized campus, it'll be very easy to spread information throughout each class and get everyone on board the cause. This is a good test run for the new and improved Augustinian Army.
"My goal is to have Jalen commit to us before leaving." Jake concluded.