Gopher spirit group looks to increase student involvement

The group is seeking to add more “Gopher Greeters” for next football season.

by mackenzie collins

The University of Minnesota student group We Are MinnesotaâĦSportsmanship -Council has planned changes for increasing Gopher s spirit inside and outside TCF Bank Stadium at football games next year, but to be successful must look for more student involvement. The new student group, formed in 2009, has tackled the task of promoting positive sportsmanship and creating new traditions at the University, which has a strong history of student spirit. The University invented cheerleading in 1898, according to the UniversityâÄôs admissions office. Last year the group had 40 students, known as âÄúFan AmbassadorsâÄù , whose name has since been changed to âÄúGopher Greeters.âÄù They also had about 525 students sign up to be part of the spirit section that followed and would lead cheers. But on average only about 150 of those students showed up per game. Only about 30 of them showed up for every game, group co-chair Brittany Geissler said. Because of this, the group wants to concentrate on recruiting and screening quality spirit section members and Gopher Greeters for next year. âÄúWeâÄôre doing small scale at the beginning,âÄù Geissler said. âÄúItâÄôs open to anyone. We just really want dedicated students who are willing to attend all of the games.âÄù Current student group member and Gopher Greeter Chelsea Schonert, a sophomore physiology major, said she was one of the students who sat in the front row at every game and âÄúcheered her heart outâÄù courtesy of tickets she received for her volunteer efforts before the game. But Schonert said she was disappointed when she looked back on recorded television showings of the game. âÄúThe student section would be like, half empty, so I think a big part [for next year] would be to get more students interested in coming to the football games and staying for the whole games.âÄù said Schonert. âÄúIf you see other college games there are tons of students there.âÄù Last year, the Gopher Greeters answered questions in bright-green shirts at fan information tents in attempts to âÄúpump fans upâÄù in tailgate lots around the outside of the stadium. They also handed out Gopher tattoos and buttons. After looking back at the first year at TCF Bank Stadium, Geissler said the group got a lot of positive feedback from the University athletics department and attendees, but there is clearly still room for improvement. âÄúOur future goals are to enhance the game-day atmosphere for students to want to stay the whole game and support their school,âÄù Geissler said, âÄúand really to be proud to be a gopher.âÄù The deadline for applications to become a Gopher Greeter is March 30 , and the screening process will begin the week after the deadline.