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Business and School Spirit Go Hand in Hand

Image via Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago is doing sports a little differently this year under a revamped athletic department and new athletic director, Dr. Grace Calhoun. The university is trying to increase school spirit while also bringing in some revenue that would, in turn, help the school’s athletic department grow. The school is trying a variety of strategies to achieve its goal.

Changes include new coaches, new facilities, new gear — the works. The athletic department has gotten a full face lift.  The administration hopes the makeover will boost school spirit, increase attendance at games and encourage student athletic interaction.

This year Loyola hosted its first-ever homecoming and just this semester Loyola had its first-ever spirit week. Faculty are trying to enhance the student experience, but is it working?

Students say there’s more to school spirit than new facilities.

“I think it’s a good effort,” said junior Shayla St. James when asked how she felt about Loyola’s efforts to promote school spirit. “But if the teams aren’t doing well, it won’t work.”

At Loyola’s games, the band is usually the most-crowded section, and the new student section is hardly ever full of cheering students. Loyola is a Division I school, but the school’s record is not as good as some other top-tier schools in the same division.

If how well the teams play is a determining factor in building school spirit, what is the athletic department doing to meet the criteria that some of the students are suggesting?

Lauren Hagan, a senior financial analyst at Loyola, has been working closely with the athletic department and its turn around. She says there are new coaches in the school’s major sports team, basketball, and the coaches are really looking forward to bringing in their recruits.

The school is also seeking new sponsorships to help sponsor some of the school’s sporting events, Hagan said. These sponsorships will bring in more revenue to help recruit better players, but also enhance the student experience. The athletic department also has started providing more transportation to away games and having different-themed games.

One of the athletic department’s biggest changes is getting a unified product, Nike. In the previous years, different teams would be sponsored by different brands, but with Nike becoming the unified sponsor (and one of the most well-known ones as well), the athletic department has a distinctive look that sets athletes apart from other students by making them easily recognizable on campus.

But despite these many initiatives to increase the school’s school spirit, the root of the problem may be that Loyola needs to win before any significant change can happen.

“I go to the games because some of my friends are on the team and I want them to win, but I don’t think that its going to happen anytime soon,” said Curtis Gibson, a sophomore at Loyola. “But I am definitely a fan.”

Loyola is putting forth an effort to do something great for their school and their athletic department. If the plan works, it will not only pump up the athletic department’s name, it will help the school financially, which seems to be one of the school’s main goals. It won’t happen overnight, but some coaches feel like things are changing already.

“With the new recruiting class coming in, we will have a more well-rounded team with a lot of great talent, and I think that is true for not only our department, but also for all the other sports teams,” said Keisha Collins, an assistant coach for Loyola’s women’s basketball team. “I feel like things are definitely looking up for the athletics department.”

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.