The Richmond Rowdies, a student organization that promotes varsity athletics and school spirit, is revamping its approach to get students more involved on game days.

The changes start within the group itself, said senior Josh Grice, president of the Rowdies. In previous years, every student was considered a member of the Rowdies, but this year, the group is implementing a new membership plan, he said.

Students interested in joining must pay $10, either through BannerWeb or directly to a member of the executive board. This pays for membership, which now includes special perks for Rowdies members, including reduced ticket prices and bus fare for away games, early entry to basketball games and exclusive opportunities to meet with coaches and players, Grice said.

These changes extend to the structural organization of the group. "Last year, we didn't really have set roles and we weren't very task-oriented," Grice said, "so we solidified positions and added subcommittees." These new subcommittees include print marketing, game day, campus relations and events coordination, he said.

One of the continued concerns of the Rowdies is student attendance to home games, Grice said. "Last year's opener was a sellout with 8,700 people in attendance," said Jana Woodson, assistant director of athletics, marketing and fan development. "Twelve-hundred of those were students." This year's opening football game was just as successful, selling out the stadium again, she said.

To keep students interested and attendance high, the Rowdies have been working with other organizations on campus such as Student Activities, the Athletics department and Greek life, said junior Nick Olindo, vice president of game day for the Rowdies.

The athletic department launched a smartphone application last Friday called URVA, which promotes all home athletic events, Woodson said. Students can sign in to the app and earn points for every home game they attend, Grice said, and receive "free swag," ranging from t-shirts to away-game tickets, based on their continued attendance.

The Rowdies and the athletics department have also teamed up to have a tailgating lot specifically for students this year, Woodson said. Any student organization can reserve a spot in lot R20, Olindo said, and any student can attend the tailgate to learn more about those organizations and to show school spirit for athletics. The tailgate includes music from Radio FM 94.5 as well as raffles for prizes, he said.

Looking forward to basketball season, the Rowdies are already planning Spider Mayhem, a late-night community event to support men's and women's basketball, Grice said. There will be pep band performances, contests and prizes, Olindo said. "With the $17 million renovations to the Robins Center, we have a great opportunity for change," Olindo said. "Hopefully the Rowdies can capitalize on the new additions to get students and the community really excited for basketball season."

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