In the past, Richmond students have been criticized in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Collegian for poor turnout at athletic events. But the trend of lackluster fan support may be changing.
A national championship and the largest freshman class in school history may have something to do with that. An increase in the size of the freshman class from between an average of 750-800 students in recent years to more than 900 this year has caused an increase in demand for tickets.
Seven buses of Richmond fans, including five student buses, made the drive to Durham, N.C., for the No. 2 ranked Spiders' 24-16 victory. Two hundred and seventy-five students were bused to Duke Saturday afternoon and they returned at 1:30 Sunday morning.
During previous years, only two buses were needed to transport Richmond students to Appalachian State for playoff games or to the University of Virginia for a game early last season. All but 30 available tickets were sold to Richmond students and alumni by the UR ticket office. At least 1,200 tickets were sold to UR students and alumni between the University of Richmond ticket office and Alumni Association, according to Mike DeGeorge, assistant director of athletic public relations.
Some first-year students attributed their school spirit to the fact that they were in class with football players and were able to build friendships with them.
"I think [football games] bring the school together," freshman Lizzie Ruggieri said.
Freshman Lucie Dufour said: "Even if you do not know the person standing next to you, you are bonding because you are all cheering for the same thing. Now I actually feel like I belong here also."
Other students were attending their first football game.
"I do not really follow sports," freshman Carmen Ingerman said. "My high school was never really into sports so it was fun to be a part of it."
Even other Richmond students were surprised about the number of Richmond fans who traveled to the game.
"I was happily surprised that so many other people were here," freshman Trisha Wilson said. "It was worth it. I had a lot of fun. I am glad I came."
Contact reporter Stephen Utz at email@example.com
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