Rowdy student section brings enthusiasm to soccer matches
On the banks of the Red Cedar River at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field sits a group of fans supporting members of the MSU men’s soccer team (3-6-1) every time they step onto the field for battle.
It might not hold the tradition of the Izzone or the magnitude of the football student section, but the Red Cedar Rowdies are determined to bring more excitement to men’s soccer.
Journalism sophomore Luke Ferris founded the group last season when he sought out different student sections to join at MSU and realized men’s soccer lacked one.
“Supporter sections … are kind of this unique breed,” Ferris said. “You look at different MLS (Major League Soccer) teams and they have supporter sections and they’re really passionate and dedicated groups of people. I already had a passion for that, and I just wanted to see if they had that at MSU for the team because I knew (other Big Ten schools) have their own groups as well, so that was the draw.”
Ferris said when he kicked off the Rowdies last season, he didn’t have much success in drawing people into the stands. He said as a freshman, he wasn’t sure of the best way to communicate and get the word out to students.
Members of the Red Cedar Rowdies and surrounding soccer groups cheer during the men's soccer game against Northwestern on Sept. 30, 2012. The Red Cedar Rowdies were a fan group founded last year. Julia Nagy/The State News
The section saw some of its largest numbers Sunday against Northwestern, as it was joined by other soccer supporter groups: Northern Guard, Motor City Supporters and Mid-Michigan United.
Although the group isn’t regularly drawing the numbers higher-profile sports see, the Rowdies are continuing to recruit additional MSU students and fans to the games — a task advertising and communication freshman Alex Byers took on by managing the Rowdies’ Twitter account.
“The soccer players are on the Facebook page and the Twitter, and they’ll let us know if they like (our chants),” Byers said.
The chants, cheers and songs are more than just a source of fun for the Rowdies. Given the size of the stadium, some of the players told Byers they can hear everything they chant during the game and it pumps them up after goals and major plays.
On Sept. 21, after a 2-1 win over Western Michigan, sophomore forward Tim Kreutz cited celebrating with the Rowdies when asked about their momentum in two quick back-to-back goals. Kreutz scored the Spartans’ first goal and assisted another minutes later, after he and other MSU players ran to the sideline to cheer with the excited Rowdies.
“The draw is the game of soccer, but the draw is also becoming the support section and the way they support the team,” Ferris said. “They’re not a professional team. The draw is for people to come to have fun — to be loud, sing songs, be creative.”