Now that football season is officially over, many sports fans find themselves missing a vital piece of their identity. Although the NBA and NHL still have the regular season to play, a lot of fans don’t really get excited about either sport until the playoffs, when things really heat up. That is especially the case in hockey, which I believe has by far the most exciting postseason in sports. Until then, however, fans need something to take the place of football. So here are a few things fans at UConn can do in the wake of football season to keep themselves busy until next fall:
Go to a baseball game or two
Students may or may not be aware of this, but college baseball season starts rather early. The Hook C, as the UConn Huskies’ baseball team is affectionately called, begins its regular season down in Florida in just one week in a series against UMass-Lowell. The first official home game of the year won’t be until March 24, but there are very few feelings as good as experiencing a nice day at J.O. Christian Field watching the baseball team in action. When the weather is just right, which it has thankfully been in the past, it makes for a really fun afternoon in the bleachers.
On top of that, the team could have a fantastic season. Led by co-captains Willy Yahn and Aaron Hill, the team is an energetic and enthusiastic group that plays a really fun style of baseball. There is plenty of talent in the pitching staff with Tim Cate and Will Montgomerie leading the way after the departure of first-round draft pick Anthony Kay. Head coach Jim Penders brought in a fantastic recruiting class so there will be lots of young and talented bats in the lineup to replace the likes of Bobby Melley and Joe DeRoche-Duffin. Plus, the entire team has added pounds of muscle to increase their durability of for the wear and tear of a long season. And, let’s not forget that the UConn baseball team will be the first to play at Dunkin’ Donuts Park (the Hartford Yard Goats’ stadium) on April 5. With all that in mind, it will surely be an exciting season for the Hook C, and it’s never a bad decision to see them in action.
Actually support the women’s basketball team
So many people on our campus love the men’s and women’s basketball teams, and for good reason. We are the Basketball Capital of the World with 15 national championships to our name, including 11 by the women’s team alone. It really can’t be emphasized enough just how incredible Geno Auriemma and his team are. That said, although the men’s team is showing some promise for the remainder of their season after the utter domination of USF on Wednesday night, fans at UConn should consider going to some more women’s games and bringing the same kind of energy to each and every game.
I know it can be boring to some if the game is “over by the first quarter,” but this team is truly on the verge of something special. Forget all the records that they’ve already accomplished. This edition of the UConn women’s basketball team will presumably be going for their 100th consecutive win on Monday against the No. 6 team in the nation, South Carolina. The stands at Gampel Pavilion will most likely be packed for obvious reasons, but as the women’s team continues to break records, it is important for fans to continue to support them in every game with just as much energy as they support the men’s team, or any other team at UConn. They might not need the extra support or energy, but they sure as hell deserve it. Who knows? They could even break the all-time, all-sport NCAA record for consecutive wins held by the Penn State women’s volleyball team with 109 consecutive wins.
Give the men’s and women’s hockey teams some love
The story of the men’s and women’s hockey seasons this year has been inconsistency. Both teams have performed well against very good teams like Boston College one day and have lost to average teams like Vermont another day. However, both teams find themselves in seventh place in Hockey East with a chance to push for home-ice in the conference tournament if they play well enough over the last few weeks of the season.
The women’s team plays at the Freitas Ice Forum, which is in desperate need of renovation and isn’t exactly the best venue for fans. However, with two home games left to close out the season, it is vital for fans to get out there and show the team some support. Head coach Chris MacKenzie has really developed the program over the years and with a superstar scorer like Leah Lum, the games can actually be quite entertaining with a lot more skill than some expect from our hockey team. So even though it might be rough to get all the way to the rink for many students, it is definitely worth the visit for a game of UConn women’s hockey.
On the other hand, the XL Center is a fantastic venue for hockey and has launched the men’s team to one of the highest attendances in the NCAA, just based on pure size. However, many times one can find sections with seats open and cheers to be lacking. The UConn Blue Line fan section has tried to resurrect cheers for this season and I admire that, no doubt about it. However, if we are to be considered among the best in attendance, we need to sound like it, too. I went to Agganis Arena in Boston for the Huskies’ game against Boston University and even though UConn beat BU 4-0, the students there never stopped making noise. Schools like Boston College, Providence and Michigan have the same energy, with fan sections that make noise like UConn does for basketball. That’s what our next step needs to be if we also want to be a hockey school, in addition to being a basketball school.
Although this wasn’t so much a traditional column as it was a plea to check out some of the other teams at UConn, for those who are missing something to watch or do on campus after football season, look no further than my suggestions above. Each and every one is a good time and well worth the effort to check out.