Changes to the student section lead to increased school spirit

The TCU student section at home football games has become a force to be reckoned with in the Big 12, but this transition didn’t happen over night.

Drew Martin, assistant athletic director for marketing, said TCU athletics started focusing on its marketing efforts to the students a couple of years ago.

Martin said the marketing team used a lot of social media and messaging directed specifically at students to try to increase the spirit for football games.

“One thing we did was invite a bunch of student leaders from across campus and students who expressed interest in wanting to make the atmosphere of the school even better,” Martin said.

Martin and his team listened to the students’ ideas and began implementing some of the ideas in January during the offseason.

Some of the ideas implemented this year were the addition of stadium speakers in the student section to help students hear when the band plays, a defense chant or anything else to amp up the area and the addition of student section leaders to coordinate cheering.

“I think it’s just unifying the students together and making them one giant voice against the opponent that makes it so affective,” Martin said.

Students and fans have noticed the effect these changes have had on home games this season.

“It definitely seems like it’s more energetic, and that the students are more passionate and focused on the game,” Andrew Felts, senior sports broadcasting and finance major, said.

Since the changes were implemented, other college football teams are paying attention to the student section.

“We hear from the visiting teams how the students make it rough on them,” said Mark Cohen, director of athletics media relations. “We’ve been told that our students are as into the game as anywhere in the Big 12.”

Cohen said TCU has become known as one of the more energetic student bodies in the Big 12.

Many believe this year’s attendance and school spirit is part of the reason the Frogs are having such a successful season.

“The players really feed off that energy in the stadium,” Martin said.

The football players agree.

“It’s always good to have it behind our back, someone that’s always supporting and encouraging us,” said Ty Summers, first-year linebacker. “The larger the student section, the more our moral is increased, the more motivated we are to succeed; not just for ourselves but for the whole school.”

TCU football head coach Gary Patterson said he believes the student section played a big part in the fourth quarter in TCU’s upset against Oklahoma.

“I feel like there’s a relationship growing of understanding that the student section understands that we need them to be apart of what we do for us to be successful,” Patterson said.

Another change made in the student section this year was a reduction in seating capacity.

Cohen said some seats that were previously part of the student section are now used as season passes.

Martin said the ticket office and administration looked at average student attendance from the last five to ten years and tried to scale that appropriately in conjunction with comments from former season ticketholders who might have had lower seats before and moved higher in the stadium to try and free up some lower bowl seats.

“We balanced what the need for the student section had historically been with the demand to fill some sections that had previously gone empty in the last couple of seasons,” Martin said.

The physical seats might be less, but some students found that the reduced size of the student section made for a more spirited environment.

“I think making it smaller, you’re going to have less space for everybody, so the people who are really passionate that are really into the game are going to be the ones that stay and use those seats,” Felts said.

Cohen said the outlines of the student section are not going to change in the near future.

“It’s gone really well,” Cohen said. “There’s nothing in the plans on that end.”

This season has seven home games, the most home games the Frogs have had since 1930.

At the four home games already this year, the student section has not had less than 3,600 students attend, Martin said.

Take a closer look with Patterson: