Richmond's men's basketball team broke records this season, but not on the court.
Home attendance in the Robins Center this season averaged 6,435 people, a number that had not been reached since the 1992-1993 season, said David Walsh, the deputy athletic director for external relations.
In that season, the Spiders went 15-12. This season, with the spike in attendance, the Spiders went 16-16 overall and 7-11 in the Atlantic 10. They did not meet expectations or predictions, especially after last season, when the Spiders were 21-14 overall and 12-6 in conference play.
The Spiders struggled to find defensive consistency, head coach Chris Mooney said after the final game of the season against Dayton. Mooney explained that the defense was what kept them from a more successful season.
In the wake of these losses, however, the Robins Center was continually full of cheering fans bursting with Spider pride.
This increase in attendance can be attributed to different organizations trying new tactics to bring more people out to the games. Two of the most active groups are the Richmond Rowdies and Richmond's athletic department.
As the Rowdies’ webpage explains, they are a group open to all students with the goal of promoting school spirit, unity and awareness of varsity athletic events. Through their different efforts before and during games, the Rowdies try to encourage students to come to games.
“Games have become a lot more popular because of the DJs that have been coming to games,” Sapir Shoshan, a freshman Rowdie, said.
The athletic department has also been trying to boost numbers in the stands by enticing a wider community attendance at games. They do so through community outreach projects and new marketing tactics.
Recently, one community outreach program, Kids Club and Scholastic Stars, has brought more attention to athletic events and encouraged more people from the community to come support the team.
Scholastic Stars is a partnership with 31 local elementary and middle schools where students and teachers are recognized on the court at basketball games for their academic achievements and their dedication to their schools. Students are given positive feedback for their academics, and teachers are able to win gift certificates to pay for their classroom needs.
Regardless of where the higher numbers can be attributed to, all sides, including athletes, the Rowdies and the athletic department, have applauded the recent surge of support.
Walsh said he was proud of the progress the school had made in attendance and only saw it continuing.
Joe Guiterrez, the head of the Rowdies, echoed these sentiments. He said that he believed that creating a good atmosphere would always encourage and bolster presence at games.
This season has proven that even without regular success on the scoreboard, fans in the Richmond community will show up to support the Spiders.
Contact reporter Charlotte Dowell at firstname.lastname@example.org