Dear students at the University of South Dakota,
Two things give me the biggest smiles on Coyote game days: the Coyotes scoring and the student section cheering them toward those points. Screams of “Go Yotes” and “UUUSSSDDD” sound like a symphony of school pride that really make the difference for those student athletes on their courts and fields. However, I sometimes look across the DakotaDome to find a quiet group of shy students, waiting for the next big play to get loud.
I’m writing you today to tell you: don’t wait.
All too often, we get discouraged when a football is fumbled, a basketball is stolen or a close set is lost. If our student athletes could take a break from their game to speak with you, they’d tell you to get louder! Get meaner! Get pumped! They’re out there, waiting for their school to give them the push they expect at home to get them to the next level.
Five years ago, we started our transition to Division-I athletics. Our athletics’ administration understands that just because we’re out of those “transition” years doesn’t mean we’re at that level quite yet. Competitively, we are either there or very close. It’s the atmosphere of Division-I athletics that doesn’t come in as quickly. For that, they look to you.
Away games are scary. No athlete looks forward to stepping into another team’s sanctuary to compete. It’s not the familiarity of the court or experience on the certain type of turf that is considered the advantage. It’s the “twelfth man.” And if you want to be a formidable “twelfth man” at the Division-I level, you don’t only need to attend, but also participate.
Participation is key at this level, and not only at athletic events. Look at the weekly events wall in the MUC to see just how much work this campus goes through to make sure you always have something to do. Student Services, philanthropy groups, Greek Life, everyone is working toward improving the atmosphere of campus.
Bringing in big name musical acts and comedians, large-scale student philanthropy projects, random casino and dance parties even roller-blading! There are activities for you to attend, so why not participate?
When I came back to campus in the summer of 1997, attendance and participation were not concerns. We were concerned with having a community that was, at the least, staying alive. This campus was known as a “suitcase college,” and that’s something we here at USD have worked toward ridding us of. Now those days are behind us, where they belong.
What I’m trying to say is: enjoy yourself! Have fun with your time here! Get out on a random weeknight and find something fun to do. Attend that relationship speaker. Go to that magician. Support your Coyotes at an athletic event. Get a team and play some sand volleyball at that fundraiser. Enjoy what’s being offered now, show us you like what’s here now, and tell us if you want more, want better.
We’ll deliver, but only if you deliver now. By attending and participating now, you’ll see larger payoffs in the future. Don’t ask what your University can do for U; ask what U can do for your University.
Also: don’t forget to get your class work done before you go out. You’re here for school first.