By Taylor Gull
Special to GoHolyCross.com
It can be said with confidence that most athletes draw their strength in games from the support given to them. Whether this support comes from fellow teammates, friends, coaches, parents or fans; all have nearly the same effect. There is something to be said however, about the power of a strong fan base. Whether it is from the increased support group or the increased pressure to perform, it is not clear. What is clear however, is the direct relationship between the support of fans and the success of a team; a relationship that is well known by senior Anthony Russo (Stratford, Conn.) of the men’s swimming and diving team, and junior Payton Shubrick (Springfield, Mass.) of women’s track and field.
Both varsity athletes themselves, as well as Co-Directors of Student Athletics for the Student Government Association (SGA), Shubrick and Russo are aware of the positive results that a large and committed fan base can provide. Therefore, the two set out to make sure that each team on campus was able to experience that kind of support from their fellow Crusaders. Throughout their years here, the two have noticed that some athletic events gain more attendance than others. Russo and Shubrick both agree that each athlete on this campus works just as hard as the next, and deserves just as much recognition. So, they became determined to make this a reality.
Throughout both their college and high school careers, both have demonstrated leadership in various positions, which they have applied to their endeavors in the SGA. Shubrick has been involved with the athletic branch of the SGA throughout her entire career at Holy Cross. In addition to this, she has held E-Board positions in the Black Student Union, and is a member of the Moot-Court on campus. Russo has been involved in SGA one way or another, from working as a Freshman Diversity Intern, holding the position of senator at large, to his current position as Co-Director of Student Athletics.
In an interview with both Shubrick and Russo, the co-directors expressed their feelings, goals and accomplishments concerning what they have achieved thus far. It was easy to see that both are extremely pleased with their current results, are hopeful for the future as well.
GoHolyCross.com: What drove you in your decision to take the position of Co-Director of student athletics?
Russo: SGA has been something I've been involved in in various capacities since freshman year. Going into my junior year, I decided to apply for Co-Director of Student Athletics to help change the athletic culture on campus. I noticed over my first two years here that some games got a lot of student support and many others got none at all. As a varsity athlete myself, I know how hard all teams work and wanted to do my part to increase student attendance for all 27 varsity sports. It really makes a difference in the atmosphere at a game and I knew that there was a lot of potential in the position.
Shubrick: As a student and an athlete it is very important to get the students engaged whether that is on the court, track, field, pool, etc. Student-athletes represent the school and therefore it is very important that the student body shows up and cheers on the team. SGA Athletics was the perfect outlet to better engage the student body with the 27 varsity sports we have on campus. I have been an athlete my whole life and I truly understand the difference a rowdy crowd makes at a game/match. It is my goal that through Game of the Week (GOTW) every sport can experience at least one game where they feel supported by the school through a big crowd and even bigger cheers. It is truly important to me that the student body supports that effort of getting a win.
GoHolyCross.com: How do you feel your involvement with the SGA has impacted the dynamic of athletics here on campus? Do you think you have reached any of your goals thus far?
Russo: I think the work we've done, especially with the Game of the Week, has definitely positively impacted the dynamic of athletics on campus. Last year we tried a wide variety of promotions and learned some trends about what worked and what didn't. Even though the initiative was new, we definitely saw great attendance at games and we were able to run at least one promotion for every team that had a home competition. This year has been even better -- we have a year of experience and have a much better pulse on what students are looking for. Especially as the concept of the Game of the Week has caught on, it's so nice to hear positive feedback from athletes, students and coaches.
Shubrick: I believe so far with Game of the Week (GOTW) we have been able to see a notable difference with people showing up to events they otherwise would not consider, due to the promotions both Anthony and I provide. Whether it is free Dunkin Donuts or a t-shirt, whatever it takes to get students to the game is very important and hopefully something that becomes a tradition for GOTW.
GoHolyCross: What could you say about working with your Co-Director Payton Shubrick?
Russo: Working with Payton has been amazing. We work together very well and have been united towards the same goal since taking the position. The great relationship we had from the beginning definitely helped the Game of the Week get going quickly and, as we are both in the position again this year, will hopefully help ensure its continued growth and success. Payton is a tireless worker with a great vision and I could not imagine doing this without her.
GoHolyCross: What could you say about your co-director Anthony Russo?
Shubrick: Anthony is a very energetic person who is passionate about all athletics. Working with him has been an absolutely amazing experience and I am truly saddened that I will be losing him this year due to his graduation.
GoHolyCross: What else do the two of you hope to accomplish as Co-Directors of Student Athletics? What else do you have planned for Game of the Week?
Shubrick: The biggest hope that I have for the program GOTW is for it to become a tradition!
Russo: This year, we are making an effort to reach out to local businesses more to have them featured as promotions for different Games of the Week. We feel as though there is mutual benefit in this, as it helps introduce local businesses to students and also provides a great incentive to come to games. Examples of businesses we've worked with so far are Q’doba and Pizzeria Delight, and we plan to work with many more in the coming months, including Coney Island hot dogs. We are also working on ordering new giveaways to introduce at games, including rally towels.