Daniel Puryear, Contributing Writer
Before seeing the starting lineup, court or opposing team in the Siegel Center, you’ll find students draped in black and gold, filled with energy. Rushing in an hour and a half before the tip to be the closest to the court, the Rowdy Rams are some of the most notorious student fans in college basketball.
The Rowdy Rams make up the VCU Athletics student section, designed to cheer on all VCU Athletics events, but Men’s Basketball is the most popular.
“Rowdy is a way of being,” said Kaileigh Robertson, senior and two-year Rowdy Rams president. “You radiate excitement and positivity in order to show to devotion and passion towards the group that need our support.”
These “rowdy” students and VCU basketball lovers are led by a board that consists of four positions.
Any full-time student can become a Rowdy Ram for $35, which gives students tickets to all home basketball games, first access to away games and benefits with local sponsors.
With the deep run of the 2011 VCU Men’s Basketball team to the Final Four in the NCAA Division I Tournament, the Rowdy Rams gained fame alongside the esteemed tournament run. With any winning sports team comes a loud and boisterous fan base. The Rowdy Rams grew and were awarded the 2013 Naismith Student Section of the Year Award, beating out 157 other Division I schools.
Some outsiders may see the loud students yelling chants every game and wonder, “what is the point?”
“Our goal as a student section is to bring students together to be spirited for all VCU collegiate sports,” Robertson said. “We express our spirit through our continued passion and energy to bring energy and life into every sport, game and athlete’s dream.”
Robertson has attended VCU basketball games since 2014 and will graduate in May after five years of celebrating success and cheering on award-winning athletes. Although Rowdy Rams are most notorious for their basketball attendance, it is not all celebrating dunks and 3-pointers.
“I think one of my favorite memories was this past year when Women’s Volleyball went undefeated for 12 games within in-conference play,” Robertson said. “Our women fought so strong the whole season to be able to stay reigning champs of the [Atlantic 10].”
As the wins come, so do the fans. Even when the Rams lost coach Shaka Smart to Texas and missed their first postseason play in seven years, the fans continued to show up.
Freshman Taylor Jackowski came to VCU after one of the worst seasons for Men’s Basketball in recent years.
“I have always loved sports. I used to play many myself,” Jackowski said. “So it was just natural to come to college and be excited to attend different sporting events. I like having school spirit, and going to basketball games and being a Rowdy Ram is a great way to do that.”
The energy and enthusiasm of the Rowdy Rams isn’t just for the students participating — Robertson said it can affect the performance of the teams as the crowd of students chants “V-C-U, V-C-U” to motivate players.
“I think our impact is huge especially with our teams that don’t have the turnout like Men’s Basketball,” Robertson said. “VCU has a reputation that our fan base runs deep and that we always come to be ‘rowdy’ and we stand by it.”
Robertson said VCU’s student section can be “alarming” to opposing teams.
“Our energy can’t be replicated,” Robertson said. “When VCU gains momentum in the game, havoc erupts and the energy within the Stu is something that no team can prepare for.”
The Siegel Center is a special place for Rams and basketball fans alike. Basketball insider for CBS Sports Jon Rothstein credits the environment of the stadium.
“A VCU home game at the Siegel Center. More life altering than a 10-day trip to Europe,” he said in a tweet.
While the Rowdy Rams are not the only fans at the Siegel Center, these “rowdy” students start chants, create connections with the student athletes and make their way every game, regardless of snow or freezing conditions.
“The Stu is full of magic, but only when our students are there to fill it with life and energy,” Jackowski said. “It makes the games that much better, and the players that much more motivated.”
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