Athletics are a huge part of the RIT community, but athletes are not the only ones who can get involved. For that reason, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Center for Campus Life teamed up and created Tiger Den.
On a designated date, Tiger Den will provide free food for all those in attendance, and usually give away some RIT apparel as well.
“We try to switch it up, between T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, hats, gloves,” explained Tiger Den student assistant Sean Terry, a fifth year Mechanical Engineering Technology major.
Items being given away typically range from event to event, but the goal is not focused around the free stuff. The aim of Tiger Den is to attract more and more students to come out and support their peers on the field, on the court, in the pool, and so on.
“What we try and do is get as many students to come out to that event as possible and support the student athletes and what they are doing,” described Terry. “They work hard taking classes and doing a varsity sport.”
Mollie Hamilton, Tiger Den graduate assistant and second year Supply Chain Management MBA student, stated, “We try to draw everybody from the student body ... people that usually come to sporting events and those who do not usually come.”
Another objective of Tiger Den is to encourage all sorts of people to attend, and introduce them to something they typically would not get exposed to. Sure, some student might just go for the free stuff, but the atmosphere and thrill a RIT athletic event is something they may not have realized beforehand. Hamilton described, “It showcases something they may not have seen before.”
Even though going to one Tiger Den does not guarantee going to other sporting events, it does shed a light on what is happening in the athletic world. By attending a event, the students become “more aware of when games are happening,” said Hamilton.
Even if sports are not someone’s cup of tea, a Tiger Den experience itself is noteworthy.
Terry described the events as “really exciting. Everyone is cheering and loud and happy to be there.” With the mixture of students cheering and Pep Band — who come to every Tiger Den — playing, the place is overflowing with fun and excitement.
Tiger Den events are also something different to do and be involved in. Hamilton described, “[It] gives a break from the everyday schedule.” Going to a game or two and cheering on fellow students is a good way to escape the formalities and stress of the academic side to college. “It’s a great way to blow off some steam,” expressed Terry.
While de-stressing and receiving giveaways may be enough to convince students to come, it is important to remember the main reason Tiger Den was created.
Everything is done in the name of the student athletes.
The encouragement and recognition a team receives during their event does nothing but positive things for their morale. The athletes truly appreciate seeing more and more faces cheering and supporting themselves and their teams. “It means a lot to know that people come out and support you,” described Terry, who is a student athlete himself, throwing for the track and field team.
When discussing what Tiger Den meant to different athletes from a range of sports, the answers were all very positive. Everyone seemed to love the extra support and recognition their teams were getting.
“It’s a great thing for me for me to see ... to have them out there watching what we put hours and hours into is very meaningful,” explained Rebecca Schwan, a second year Marketing and Hospitality double major and member of the women’s cross country team. Tiger Den assures that the hard work and unbelievable effort by these athletes does not go unnoticed. It also provides a chance for the student body to see what exactly their peers are accomplishing on a daily basis.
Fourth year Electrical Engineering major and co-captain of the women’s cross country team, Amy Gunthrie, described one of her Tiger Den experiences. “The shoreline was filled with people, I just smiled,” stated Gunthrie. Seeing the extra faces not only brings joy to the athletes, but it also makes them feel good about their achievement and skills.
Fifth year Chemical Engineering Major and captain of the women’s cross country team, Emily Knaul, described just how much some extra support can effect an athlete competing. “It’s an extra boost,” she explained. “You always need more people to cheer you on when you’re running.”
Overall, the peer encouragement means a lot to these athletes. It is fun and exciting for them to see the crowds, and that added backing sometimes can really help motivate them to victory. As Hamilton conveyed, “The number of bodies that are there for that support makes those athletes feel that much better on that day.”
Be on the look out for the spring schedule! Remember, Tiger Den is for student athletes, but it wouldn’t be possible without the students coming out to cheer them on.