By Sarah Block
Since the televised game against Holy Cross in January, the Bison men’s track and field team has easily become the most spirited group of fans in attendance at the Bison men’s basketball games. Dressed in coordinated costumes, the members of the track and field squad have filled the stands of Sojka Pavilion during every single home game so far this season.
Seniors Justin O’Brien, Josh Clark and Chris Boyd originally decided to go to the Holy Cross game because it was nationally televised and many students were not on campus, as the game fell during the last weekend of the University’s winter break. According to Clark, the runners wanted to make sure that the basketball team had student support for its first Patriot League home game. Additionally, the men’s track team wanted to be sure that the University’s student population was well-represented on national television.
The runners dress up in different costumes for each game, usually thought up by Steve Levandusky ’11.
“We just come up with ideas that we think will generate excitement and look out of the ordinary,” Levandusky said.
For the Holy Cross game, the team dressed in crazy suits and made signs to go along with their costumes. Bob Socci and John Feinstein, the commentators for CBS College Sports, were so amused by the track team that they showed the team on television during a time-out and continuously noted the students’ enthusiasm for Bison basketball. Some of the team members, including David D’Alessio ’11, got their signs autographed by the commentators. The team has dressed in suits, beach, blackout, toga, 1950s, flannel and orange cutoff shirt themes, just to name a few.
The main goal of the costumes is to throw off the opposing team, forcing them to miss as many free throws as possible. According to Levandusky, the goal of the group as a whole is to cheer on the basketball team as loud as possible, trying to be louder than the other student section.
The real motivation to continue attending games as a group came when Head Coach Dave Paulsen personally thanked the team following the Holy Cross game, expressing his appreciation for their attendance. The basketball players also enjoy the track team’s continued support.
“I feel that the basketball team really appreciates it, and the games are really fun for us too,” Josh Clark ’11 said.
In return, the basketball team has gone to a few track meets to reciprocate and support their number-one fans. This feeling of gratitude extends to the players’ family members. The father of season superstar Mike Muscala ’13 has even offered to attend a track meet dressed in any costume that the track team requests.
The men’s track and field team has exemplified the value of good sportsmanship and Bison spirit throughout the basketball season. Since January, they have been the basketball team’s most devoted fans. To quote Clark, “The rest is history.”