As this semester transitions its focus from fall sports to winter, from football to basketball, SRU’s student section, the Rock Rowdies, are beginning the preparation for the upcoming sports seasons, as well as next football season.
The Rowdies are a key component in every football game at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium, chanting as loud as the cheerleaders and oozing with Green and White pride every Saturday afternoon. Composed of students from all walks, from freshmen to super seniors, from safety management majors to future psychologists and everyone in between, the Rock Rowdies are a force to be reckoned with, with much of their success linked to the indirect leadership within the section.
An active member of the Rock Rowdies since his freshman year, junior recreational therapy major Will Coffey said joining the Rowdies was a big help with his transition from high school to college. He said he’s always liked football, and when he first came to Slippery Rock, his first idea was to start going to the football games. The rest, of course, is history.
Coffey said he’s always at the games, through rain, wind, poor attendance, and losses, along with a core group of about 20 other students.
“Not everyone is as into it as I am, but what we have is great,” Coffey said. “There’s always new people showing up, and it’s a lot of fun.”
A fairly outgoing person, Coffey also works in the undergraduate commissions as a Pride Guide, or a tour guide, for the university. He said that, while his tours typically don’t focus on promoting the sports teams, he does think his being part of the Rowdies positively affected his job, and vice versa.
Coffey doesn’t attribute all of the Rowdies’ popularity and success to himself, however; he also mentioned SRU graduate D’Rae Wise, junior Dallas Kline and super senior Skylar Holtzapple.
Holtzapple, a history major who’s been an active member of the Rock Rowdies since his junior year, said he first got involved in a big way when he almost accidentally ended up toward the front of the student section at one of his first football games.
“I realized how much fun it was,” Holtzapple said. “I mean, it’s not always fun when we lose, but that hardly happens because the football team is awesome.”
One of his favorite parts about the student section this year was the freshman involvement; more have come out and gotten involved this year than previous years, and he said he hopes the section just keeps getting bigger.
Holtzapple, who will be graduating before the next football season, said that one of his favorite moments over the course of his three years in the Rock Rowdies was the football game at West Chester University in November 2015, when the SRU student section “invaded their stadium.”
“The bus ride was great, too, because it was good to actually talk to people in a setting you could actually hear them,” Holtzapple said with a smile.
Over this past season, Holtzapple and Coffey agreed that the most memorable football game was the home game against California University of Pennsylvania (CalU). Holtzapple remarked at how big the student section was that Saturday in September and Coffey remembered the energy.
“It was electric in that stadium,” Coffey said.
Coffey hopes to expand and to start collaborating more with the cheerleaders and the Marching Pride as well as getting the next generation of students involved and “keeping this good thing going.”
Students can stay updated on the Rock Rowdies by following the section on Twitter @SRockRowdies.