Last weekend, an amazing thing happened on the campus of the University of La Verne.
No, a parking structure was not built, although many students would say that one is sorely needed.
Nor was the addition to the Oaks Residence Hall completed, although the progress on it has been remarkably efficient, considering this is the University of La Verne, after all.
There was, however, a miraculous showing of spirit from the ULV community. Of course, there are always those loyal supporters who root on the Leopards in all their athletic endeavors (including struggling teams such as the men’s soccer team, which is grateful to all the dedicated fans who showed their support).
But in my experience at this University, this was something special. La Verne’s women’s volleyball team hosted the West Region of the NCAA Division III playoffs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And the turnout for the Leopards two matches was impressive. But more than that, the crowd was energetic. The fans were into it. The players themselves would be the first to admit it had an impact.
It has been a dream season for the women’s volleyball team. They beat Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival Cal Lutheran three times this season. The same group of underclassmen who finished second in SCIAC last season led the Leopards to the conference championship and the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
And they nearly achieved their goal of the first undefeated season in the history of women’s volleyball at La Verne. With a 26-2 record, the team still set the benchmark for excellence with the best record in school history.
In the end, they ran into a team that was probably just a bit better. I have no doubt they had the ability to beat the University of Puget Sound. But as team captain and lone senior Amy Brummel said, “I just don’t think we played to our level.”
The Supertents were something to behold on Friday. Six hundred and eleven people filled the stands at the Russell J. Frantz Athletic Court. The Rowdy Rooters were there. Members of many of La Verne’s other athletic teams were also present at the match. The ASF Forum gave away 150 tickets.
It was not something I have seen at other La Verne sporting events. The support given by other athletic teams is a good sign because it is not always present. There seems to be an air of jealousy in some cases; jealousy of the success that one team has enjoyed.
The atmosphere on Friday was electric. The crowd reacted to every play and cheered for every point. It was great to see that there was genuine interest in the outcome of the match.
As a student at this University who is involved in athletics and enjoys cheering on the Leopards, the position I was in was a difficult one. It was extremely difficult not to get caught up in the moment, because the urge to cheer was hard to ignore.
It is a shame ULV’s men’s water polo team will not have the opportunity to receive the same support from the La Verne community.
This weekend it plays in the Western Water Polo Association Championships in Hawaii. At stake is a berth in the NCAA Championships, which includes teams from all divisions.
Seeing as they are the ULV men’s water polo team, the sad fact is they are probably used to receiving little support from the rest of the La Verne community. Considering their achievements in this, their third season of play, the team should be especially disappointed.
It is also a shame that it took an event like the playoffs to awaken the campus and garner the support of students, faculty, staff, friends and family.
Athletics are not the priority at this University. But they are one of the many aspects of which graduates, students and other members of the community can be proud.
“I will remember this team for a long time,” said women’s volleyball head coach Don Flora. So will everyone who saw them play, and hopefully all of the ULV community.
Brice Nixon, a junior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.