“There is not a lot of school pride.” — Ari, a freshman
(Found in comments section of the first result when searching “Emory School Spirit” on Google)
Withdraw that transfer application to the University of Michigan to join your best friend at Alpha Chi Latte where you get sh*tfaced every Saturday for game day: Emory University might finally have school spirit. The dearth of school spirit that surrounds our Division-III athletic scene has never been a point of pride, but maybe — just maybe — there’s reason for hope.
This past weekend, men’s soccer advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, tying their best postseason finish in school history. Emory volleyball dominated in their home regional, refusing to drop a set on the way to the Elite Eight of the NCAA D-III tournament. What’s surprising here is not that these teams found success. Emory has won 23 NCAA championships in its storied history. No, the real shock came from what filled the stands: people.
For the first time in your On Fire correspondent’s tenure at Emory, some noise disturbed the aching silence that has traditionally been Emory Athletics’ No. 1 fan, and it wasn’t the faint reverberations of frat stars slamming barbells to the floor after completing their first rep in 15 minutes. Hosting the NCAA South regional tournament, Emory volleyball drew living, breathing fans to put on an absolute show that would have put “Hamilton” to shame. In the three-game, single-elimination tournament, they didn’t lose a single set. In the championship game against Berry College (Ga.), not only did the team defeat another school with ease, but there was an actual student section. Your On Fire correspondent was flabbergasted.
To be fair, the fanbase was about the size of any given high school’s student section minus the presence of vapes, angst and whatever else high schoolers are into these days. Nonetheless, people actually showed up to watch Emory Athletics — a feat as unlikely as beating Emory’s most popular team: our undefeated football program. So for perhaps the hottest take in On Fire history — hotter than suggesting steroid use be mandatory or that the 2018 FIFA World Cup is a ploy to brainwash impressionable American athletes with Soviet propaganda — Emory finally has school spirit.
It’s time to shake off the dust on that bookstore Emory shirt you ordered back in high school when you were naive and cared about things, because school spirit is kind of trendy now. And while it’s not likely you will approach an Emory athlete (only recognizable by the blue powerade bottle they carry like Drake’s relationship baggage) for their autograph, it is finally socially acceptable to casually watch one of their games.
Believe it or not, your On Fire correspondent was voted most school spirited in high school and has long since contemplated whether that $485 Emory enrollment deposit might have been better spent toward football season tickets at a state school. That deposit decision has haunted your On Fire Correspondent throughout the years of Saturday mornings spent in the confines of the Robert W. Woodruff Library rather than in a football stadium densely packed with 100,000 drunk, screaming fans. Thanks to Emory volleyball, that long-desired release of school spirit has finally been achieved.
With basketball season underway, the WoodPEC likely won’t offer quite the same experience as that of Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke. However, if just a hint of what was experienced at the match against Berry is present at basketball games, then perhaps Emory can finally be considered a top-20 school.