Sure, a stadium that seats 87,451 screaming fans can create game-day butterflies for anyone. What does the sanctuary of the south end zone do for the ones playing? A student section has the power to influence player morale, energy and productivity. Located above the team’s field entrance, this area is the first impression for players, guests and prospective students. The section holds approximately 12,000 seats, and with a current enrollment of over 27,000 students, those tickets are in high demand.
Athletes understand that attendance fluctuates based on wins and losses, the weather and game time, but some other opinions float through players’ minds about the south end zone sanctuary.
As the former punter for Auburn, I want the student section to be packed at every game, but I know that not all games are created equally. I always try to put myself in student’s shoes and remember that some games are less appealing than others.
Otherwise known as the fourth down quarterback, I had the opportunity to hear the student section scream a chant every time I trotted onto the field. Before I would punt the ball to the other team I would hear, “Boom it, Kevin, Boom it.” This surprised me at first, and I didn’t know how to feel about it, but the chant grew on me. When asked what I think about the chant, I always say that I enjoy it. Looking back, the student section was key to my experience as a player and a source of energy and morale during games.
Running back Kerryon Johnson considers the 2016 game against LSU the most memorable. Through a roller coaster of emotion and score changes, he recalls the student section being locked into the game. Johnson said, “When you have a good student section, you can definitely feel it. You notice it. It plays a factor into the opposing team and it helps us out. It’s a great advantage when you have a loud one. But when students aren’t there players notice it, but we still have a job to do.”
Two-time Lou Groza Award Finalist Daniel Carlson said, “I understand when students want to leave early to beat the crowd, but I think the atmosphere at Auburn is hard to beat. I think looking back, you’re not going to remember the time that you left early to go do something else. There’s only so many home games in a year and so many opportunities you get to go to those so I think that you should take advantage of it while you can.”
When First-Team All-SEC running back Kamryn Pettway sees the student section after powering into the end zone, he makes sure to celebrate with them. “I feel like the student section is a big part of our success. I feel like they give us a lot of momentum and motivation,” Pettway said.
At the end of the day, it comes down to the overall Auburn experience for both sides. The team wants the students to have fun and fill the stadium. Students want to see Auburn win football games. So in keeping with the spirit of the Auburn Family, take every opportunity to watch a game from the student section - you only get so many.
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