As reported last week, Concordia students are not the best at supporting their varsity teams.
Still, a group of students known as the SWARM are hoping to change the culture of the school, by raising awareness and spirit around the teams.
The SWARM is a club that was launched in September by Emran Ghasemi, a member of the Concordia men’s rugby team, who was frustrated by the sparse attendance and sullen atmosphere at the Stingers’ sporting events.
The SWARM has exceeded Ghasemi’s expectations. “So far we’ve had five events and we’ve had a good turnout for all of them.”
The SWARM drew over 400 students for the football homecoming game, a win against St. F-X. Not all teams draw the same crowds, though.
Some events for more niche sports like soccer and rugby have only drawn 20 to 40 students. Ghasemi is aware that there is still a long way to go and is realistic in his goals.
“What we’re trying to achieve is to increase the athletic awareness around campus. If you go and talk to a normal Concordia student they will usually not know what kind of sports are offered, what kind of teams we have or what the teams have accomplished.”
Ghasemi is not alone in his efforts. His friend Lorne Segall is also heavily involved in helping the SWARM and is also impressed with how things have gone.
“This is something that has been tried at Concordia but has never worked,” said Segall. “We’ve gone beyond bounds of what any other people like us have tried in the past.”
Collaboration with other student groups has been paramount for the early success of the SWARM.
“We’re trying make people more aware of us by getting involved with other clubs and associations in our campuses,” added Segall.
The SWARM is currently working with ASFA to plan an event around the Feb. 8 men’s hockey game against McGill.
The group is also aware that Montreal is a city which offers plenty of other entertainment besides varsity sports in a residential neighbourhood 20 minutes from downtown. Because of this, events must be planned strategically.
“We try and avoid [planning an event] at a late Friday night game for that exact reason,” said Segall. “For example, at Hockey 101 (an event planned at a men’s hockey game for international students), it was early enough on a Friday that we were able to get students out, give them a couple of free beers and get sort of that early pre-buzz going.”
Segall was quick to note, however, that the SWARM’s goal is not to become a pre-bar drinking club that happens to be at sporting events. “We’re trying hard not to just be a free booze thing because that could get us in a little trouble around campus,” he said. “But I think the point is that we need a draw to Loyola. A little bit of extra incentive to [get students out to campus]. We want the fans to get loud and rowdy, just not to the point where it’s disrespectful.”
The SWARM is planning upcoming events for both hockey and basketball games, and more information about the group can be found on their Facebook page.