No, this isn’t another sex column about how to get laid over the summer while trying to get a few credits during summer session. This also isn’t an article with the explanation of the phenomenon known as “June Gloom” that is presently putting a downer on the end of my last Spring Quarter. This article is actually about you — that is, the Gaucho Loco inside all of us — and my respect for our dedicated fans. Over the past several days, there has been a healthy amount of press from the Nexus following up the successful year of the men’s soccer program. In reading these articles, which were mainly focused on the team’s successes along with individual accolades among some of our key players, it dawned on me that little has been said about another main ingredient of our “Cinderella” season: our fans.
Without a doubt, there has been considerable mention of the gargantuan crowd present during the infamous “goal theft” which followed our win over Virginia Commonwealth University in the Elite Eight (which was some funny shit). But I’m talking about the commitment of our peers throughout the entire season. I’m talking about the support we received on Sunday afternoons, during road games, preseason — I’m talking about Carson.
As a senior, I can say without any hesitation that we have the most committed, enthusiastic and soccer-educated fans in the country. Throughout the past four years playing for UCSB, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to schools such as Michigan State, Duke, North Carolina State, UConn, Berkeley and Stanford, along with our competitors in the Big West. Not only do our fans out-muscle these schools in sheer numbers, but, as corny as it sounds, our student body’s school spirit is head and shoulders above any school I’ve ever played against. Our team’s success in preparing for games was done on the practice field through grueling hours of training and fitness sessions led by coach Chappel. But our success on the game field is due in large part to the energy generated by our fans.
To say the least, you guys are a bunch of badasses I would hate to play in front of as an opposing player. Nobody enjoys playing at Harder Stadium as a visiting player… unless you’re in the alumni game and plan on getting absolutely obliterated in I.V. afterwards. Our fans bring it — on every level. From the chants of “UCSB” to the individual heckling of the unfortunate opposition, you guys create an energetic environment that, honestly, makes a huge difference.
So, on behalf of my fellow seniors, let me just say thanks. You guys really made our season what it was, and none of us will ever forget that.
Matt Bly is a senior history major.