If you’ve been to a homecoming football game, you know what a rowdy fan section looks like. A diverse group of students, from freshmen to seniors, all scrunched together doing everything in their power to encourage their team and occasionaly throwing trash talk around. Ryken’s Rowdies works to bring this atmosphere to all sports events on campus. In the past the Rowdies have organized events to get the student body to Thunder games. This year we can expect efforts to increase community involvement.
The Rowdies are advertising more prize-winning opportunities for participating fans and their t-shirts are receiving a new look, with the words “LET’S GET ROWDY” replacing Dr. Ryken’s face (though it will be missed). Ryken’s Rowdies is the athletics promotion team and official fan base of Wheaton College.
The Rowdies organize events to take place at various Wheaton Thunder games. The events are organized to get fans in the bleachers and to make sure they’re having a good time while providing support for the Wheaton Thunder. They’ve been at work this year through orange-outs, giveaways and morning gameday pop-ups selling t-shirts and serving breakfast.
Before the days of the Rowdies, Rusty Lindsey, Wheaton Sports Information Assistant, noticed an underwhelming fan presence at Thunder sports events. Recognizing the importance of an involved fan section, Lindsey searched for a way to bolster the atmosphere in the bleachers.
Lindsey explains, “The biggest thing we wanted to do with the Rowdies was encourage students to come to games, but also get those at the games to be more involved.” Ryken’s Rowdies continues to stay true to this original goal.
Now that Ryken’s Rowdies is going on three years of creating a unified, involved and overall fun sports experience, the Rowdies team is looking for ways to further improve the organization.
Caleb Selk, one of the presidents of Ryken’s Rowdies, explained that this year’s vision for the organization is “to create and promote the most accommodating, entertaining and memorable experience for Wheaton College students and athletics supporters.” The overall goal is to get Wheaton students looking forward to the next sports event.
Not only are the Rowdies looking to enhance the experience at sporting events, but they are also working to become a more student-led organization.
A student leadership team was developed two years ago and works closely with the Wheaton athletics department. “We are focused on our purpose of being the most premier athletic promotions team in the CCIW (College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin),” Selk said. “I like to pair that purpose with 1 Timothy 4:12, which states, ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.’”
This year Ryken’s Rowdies are already in fullswing, after starting the school year on Aug. 31 with Opening Weekend. The event covered two men’s soccer games and one football game over the course of two days. Fans who attended had the opportunity to win an Echo Dot, TV or a minifridge, along with playing in a Punt-Pass Kick Halftime Game at the football game.
The Rowdies have also organized orange-outs at numerous sports games, along with the opportunity to receive Wheaton apparel and to purchase Ryken’s Rowdies t-shirts.
“I had a great experience with Ryken’s Rowdies last year. It was so fun to go to games and help increase student participation. It was really cool to see students get involved in all the activities, especially with our fan section leaders.” Abby Yoh, a returning Ryken’s Rowdies student, said. “I wanted to join Ryken’s Rowdies to find other people interested in creating excitement for sporting events at Wheaton.” The Rowdies are concocting ways to get crowds coming back again and again, for the joy of the experience and the atmosphere of the game. Ryken’s Rowdies will be organizing Wheaton’s athletic events all year, hoping to bring Wheaton’s motto “For Christ and His Kingdom” to the stadium, the court and the field, where both sports fanatics and budding sports-lovers can be united through athletics.
Look out for Ryken’s Rowdies Naperville Takeover Tailgate Party this Saturday, Sept. 29 at North Central College. This game represents 100 games of rivalry over the Battle for the Little Brass Bell. The tailgate party is at 4:30-6:30 p.m. before the game at 7 p.m. There will be free food, games, music and prize giveaways. The Rowdies will be taking over Wehrli Stadium to witness the historic rivalry game; Wheaton won last year’s game 42-20.