Posted December 19, 2011 by Sarah Stroud 

UNC–Charlotte Overcomes School Spirit Gap

Every college has its own struggles. At the University of North Carolina–Charlotte, it is generating a sense of pride in the university through spirit. We keep telling ourselves that football is coming in 2013, and it will change everything. I keep asking myself “Will it?”

On Dec. 11, I saw a school spirit at UNC–Charlotte like no other. Over what you ask? Well, it was soccer. UNC–Charlotte made it to their first championship game in any sport. Yeah, we have been around since the 1940s but have never made it to that final game—the one where everyone rallies behind for the national championship.

We started to hear a buzz in the building and around campus earlier that week. On Dec. 7, student government passed a measure to send a bus to Hoover, Ala. for the final four games and two busses for the final game on Dec. 11 if the team made it that far. The team had upset the defending champion, the No. 3 seed, and was gunning for the No. 2. There was excitement. Twitter was blowing up with #49ersoccer; it was all over Facebook. The students were excited. Never mind they were all getting ready to start finals that week.

UNCSoccer1UNC–Charlotte took on No. 2 Dec. 9, and we had the game on in the union. There was a sufficient crowd. Somehow UNC–Charlotte came out ahead, and we went into action. No, it wasn’t to handle crowd control, it wasn’t to make sure students didn’t take to the streets—it was to prepare to take two busses to that final game against UNC–Chapel Hill Sunday, Dec. 11. I found myself volunteering to take the trip. I wasn’t going to miss an experience like this with our students. I arrived Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m. (what was I thinking?) to not two but five busses. What? When did that happen? Our students had come alive with spirit. We began the drive. I updated the union accounts from the road. Students were tweeting back and forth between buses. As we drove, I saw many carloads of even more students taking time from their finals to drive the more than seven hours to support the team.

Just before the game started, with 8,777 soccer fans present, I got the update from the union—more than 600 students were in the building to watch it on the screens throughout the building and the movie theater. We had never seen anything like this since 1977 when the basketball team made a run in the NCAA Tournament. The union was decked out in 49er decorations. They were handing out rally towels; even food service in the building gave special 49er discounts.UNCSoccer2 

I couldn’t help having a huge sense of pride for our students, the university I work for, and my job. They didn’t stop cheering, not even after we lost the game 1-0. They wouldn’t stop chanting, “We are Charlotte” and “Go 49ers” until the team left the field. The ride back to Charlotte was a somber one, but the students will be forever changed in spirit after the trip.

I read the articles after returning at 3:30 a.m. Monday morning. They all say the same thing: UNC–Chapel Hill may have won the game, but UNC–Charlotte won the respect of a nation, the fans, and more. Our students rallied behind a team—their team.

Students are now finishing finals and preparing for break and graduation, but there is something different. There is a new sense of pride, a new sense of spirit throughout the union. As a staff member, you strive for this and look for ways to capture and expand upon it. But sometimes, you just can’t create what we saw that day through programming.

Photos by Lyndsay Richter, Marketing Director

Sarah Stroud

Sarah Stroud is the Assistant Director, Administration and Support Services at University of North Carolina–Charlotte.


Awesome article! The spirit has definitely been my best memory thus far in college! GO NINERS!!
Christian Lawrence
Comment posted 12/20/2011 2:23 PM
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