Chants echo through the halls of the gym as the Gators take on another fierce competitor. It’s not just fans and families who have gathered to watch the teams fight for victory, but fellow student athletes as well.
As the rest of SF State strengthens its bonds as a community, Gator athletes have already established camaraderie during their years as teammates. The student atheletes show support for one another through attending University games and cheering on their fellow Gators.
Senior cross country runner Tyler Deniston believes the support from other teams throughout the season is far more apparent than that of the student body.
“Sure, there are certain cliques naturally, but for the most part, the athletic teams interact positively and support one another,” Deniston said. “As is custom, you’ll be close to your own team members, but some of the best friends I and most other student athletes have are not on their own teams. In a University that unfortunately receives very little support by both the student body and community, we have each other to lean on to support and cheer each other on through a winning season or mediocre season.”
Not only do the athletes play a role in building relationships between teams, coaches also take on the role of developing and stressing the importance of intersquad camaraderie.
“There is a special bond between the coaches and student athletes at SF State. They each have the same goals of being the best they can be either on the court, diamond, track, mat, course and our classroom,” Joe Danahey, sports information director, said. “The teams led by the athletic administration and coaches do a great job of going to each other’s contests and supporting each other.”
Some teams even go as far as to dress up for certain matches. Junior wrestler Dylan Phillipy takes pride in the wrestlers’ support for the volleyball team, and makes sure the wrestlers’ presence is known at each and every match.
“We go to every volleyball game! It’s just a given,” Phillipy said. “The wrestlers dress up a lot. One time we showed up in singlets and polos. For (the) breast cancer (awareness game) we wore spaghetti straps and just supported. We have no shame. We always try to go in there and be as loud as possible and make sure we win.”
As important as support for fellow Gator teams can be, unity within each team is crucial.
“We bring in a campus rec guy that does team building with them. I have various programs we do with the kids to get to know each other,” head wrestling coach Lara Jensen said. “This year we’ll have seven or eight new kids so they try to blend in. Seems in the first five to six weeks here that it’s going pretty well.”
Despite the final score, Gator teams try to keep the spirit alive in the locker room as well as in the stands. Coaches and athletes work together to form tight-knit relationships that ultimately drive the success of the season. Friendships extend past the endgame buzzer, and the Gator sports community continues to develop and grow.
“It’s definitely a family,” Phillipy said. “It’s definitely a brother and sisterhood. No matter how different you are, you can all share the same kind of athletic drive with one another. We all respect it.”
Rochelle Romero contributed to this report.