SRJC athletics struggle to fill seats


Benjamin Farren

While Bear Cubs football and Polar Bears hockey athletics programs have no trouble filling the stands, most SRJC sports team struggle to maintain a steady audience.

Stephen Wolmarans, Staff Writer

As all of California prays for El Niño to drench the state in rain, Santa Rosa Junior College athletic programs hope to welcome the rainy season with more championship banners in Haehl Pavilion.  For the last 10 years there has been no drought on campus, with teams adding eight state championship flags to the rafters in that time.

Presently, both the men’s and women’s SRJC soccer teams are poised for deep postseason runs after posting a combined 31-2-5 record during the regular season and going undefeated in conference play.  Football [6-3] and Volleyball [19-8] have both turned in impressive regular seasons and hope to continue playing well into November. 

However, all these accolades seem to fall on deaf ears.  Perennial excellence hasn’t put fans in the stands, and with the exception of football, most attendees are friends and family of the athletes. The commuter nature of SRJC doesn’t help.

As Kinesiology teacher Paul Comish said, “If you’re at a university where everyone lives on campus, students are more likely to go.”

Most sports compete during class hours, which limit students and fans’ accessibility to games. SRJC Student Katie Vannetti has a little more flexibility. “I can schedule around them, and work earlier in the day so I can go see an event,” Vannetti said.

Some programs, like SRJC’s Ice Hockey team, have built large fan bases in part by holding their games on Friday and Saturday nights. “For a lot of spectators, it’s a social event,” Comish said. 

The hockey games are also free for all to attend, with the $6-8 admission of other events acting as a potential barrier.

While The Oak Leaf promotes and covers sports around campus in print, and the SRJC Athletics has a strong online presense, many students are still not aware of events. 

“I would love to go to more games, but the only athletics advertisement was for hockey in ICC [Inter Club Council],” said student Sabrina Peluso.

Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of playing in front of a rowdy crowd knows what a difference it can make, but Coach Comish has it right when he said, “I think the athletes themselves need to feel the intrinsic value of competing, forget about having an audience, and get personal satisfaction out of performing well.”