UTA sports teams seek show of support from campus

The College Park Center on Nov. 11 during the men’s basketball homecoming game.

On March 22, 6,336 fans filled College Park Center for a men’s basketball National Invitation Tournament game.

Recently, some athletes spoke out on social media, asking where the fans were during the team’s win against Rice University.

“We want to give Arlington a show but what’s a show with no fans?” senior guard Erick Neal said in a tweet. “I mean, I think we still be able to figure out a way to win but we would love to have support just like other schools.”

Athletes from the softball, track and field and wheelchair basketball teams said Mavericks should show support for all UTA athletic programs.

Junior sprinter Chassity Love pointed out that the track and field team hosted the Sun Belt Championships at home in its previous season but received little support.

Lady Movin’ Mavs junior Abigail Dunkin said although the wheelchair basketball program has won nine titles and produced Paralympic athletes, not many people know it exists.

After word got out on social media, nearly 3,000 fans attended the men’s basketball team’s rivalry game against the University of North Texas on Saturday.

Head coach Scott Cross said anytime the team has a crowd like it did that night, it pushes everyone to play harder and find a way to win. The Mavericks pulled off a 65-60 win over the Mean Green.

Although the women’s basketball team didn’t join the conversation, head coach Krista Gerlich expressed the need for fan support for the Lady Mavericks. The women saw 1,972 fans in their Homecoming game compared to the men’s 4,379.

“We have this beautiful facility and we want to fill it up,” Gerlich said. “Our men are tremendous, and I think they’re so exciting. They deserve to play in front of a packed house, and so we want to encourage them to do that, and we want the same for our women, as well.”

Gerlich said a home-court advantage plays a big part in the game, giving the teams extra adrenaline. She said support should be shown across all programs, including baseball, softball, volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

“We’re just doing a lot of really great things here, and I think it’s important that Arlington supports that,” Gerlich said. “UTA should support UTA.”

President Vistasp Karbhari said although he would love to see all of UTA’s students fill each of its arenas, it takes time to build that level of school spirit. He said UTA is transitioning from being known as a commuter school, which means the community is learning itself what it means to be engaged at the university.

“I’m hoping that we’re slowly gaining more and more of the recognition that we attend sports and athletics, not just to cheer on the teams, which is obviously a very important part, but to also pride in our institution and to have fun together as a community,” Karbhari said.

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sports-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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