If you’ve been to a home game at the Bearcats Sports Complex in the past two years, you’ve seen the spirited student section in the bleachers, jumping and chanting just like the fans you’d see on ESPN2. That section, otherwise known as the “BU Zoo,” was formed in 2013 with the intention of raising school spirit and supporting the students’ classmates on the field.
“The BU Zoo has two main goals,” said Nate Holahan, the club’s vice president of marketing and a junior double-majoring in economics and management. “The first goal is to expand school spirit all over Binghamton. The second is to promote games and increase attendance at all sporting events.”
According to Andrew Loso, the club’s co-president and a senior double-majoring in history and Spanish, the Zoo has already made substantial progress in achieving those goals.
“We have gotten hundreds and hundreds of more people to come to games,” Loso said. “We have increased fan bases of teams that previously didn’t have much of a crowd. Women’s soccer is a perfect example. Men’s soccer is definitely increasing. We have definitely had an impact. There is definitely more on the way.”
The Zoo organized its first meeting with one of BU’s 21 programs last year with the men’s soccer team. Sporting a theme of “Tradition starts now,” the Zoo honored its word: Thursday evening, the enthusiastic supporters hosted a second event with the women’s soccer team. Between bites of pizza, Zoo members, students and players got acquainted.
“I think the team is real appreciative of the fan base and likes to be able to interact with fellow students, because we are all fans of each other,” said Sarah McClellan, head coach of the women’s soccer team.
And the effect of the Zoo at home games has not been lost on the team.
“We love the BU Zoo,” McClellan said. “They are such a good support system for our teams. The Bearcats Sports Complex is one of the best sports complexes out there and the BU Zoo really drives that.”
Senior goalkeeper Gaby Gold echoed her coach’s sentiment.
“The BU Zoo has been great,” Gold said. “They have come to support a lot of our games. It is really nice to have some extra fans in the stands. They are definitely a great boost of energy for us just being out there and showing support.”
Loso said he hopes the club will continue to expand its presence. With its ultimate goal being to meet with every one of the school’s sports programs, the Zoo is making progress in unifying the crowds and the athletes they support.
“Everybody can love Binghamton,” Loso said. “It is the most inclusive force on the campus, school spirit. Absolutely anyone can be a part of it.”