Friday, June 24, 2016

Lafayette football: A useful purpose for those cowbell ringtones?

Leopards who are taking part in the first four-week summer training session of 2016
gather around the Brian Keller memorial in Bourger Varsity Football House. I
wonder what Donna Holden's eligibility is! The photo was posted by "Andy"
on the Lafayette Sports Fan Forum.
The guys on the Lafayette Sports Fan Forum are getting ready -- and maybe a bit antsy -- for the start of the new season. On the group's chat room site in the week or so, they have become engaged in a thread entitled, “Do you think fan support makes a difference?”

The thread was started by a poster with a handle  of “1990honda” and it’s obvious he’s new to the group. I’ve known the real identity of only two or three of the guys on the site, but that doesn’t stop me from doing a bit of investigating.

“1990honda” mentions Camden County, Ga., and a look at the Lafayette roster reveals that freshman linebacker Kevin Hutchinson is the latest Georgia addition to the Leopards’ defense -- and from Camden County. “1990honda” also mentions a daughter at Vassar, and Hutchinson’s football bio lists a sister at Vassar.

Anyway, the gist of the thread is that the football atmosphere at Lafayette is vastly different – and not necessarily better – than that at Camden County, Ga., where “1990honda” says, “We immediately got infected by the football fever” generated for the high school program.  He goes on to talk not only about cheering fans, but also the clang of cowbells.

“Bogus Megapardus,” who’s "caricature"  on the LSFF is a guy with a bag over his head  -- remember the NFL’s famous  New Orleans “Aints” of 1980? – countered “1990honda” by calling the Lafayette following “more of a golf-clap crowd at Fisher” and later says “Noisy distractions and a circus-like atmosphere would never go over well at Fisher Field.”

But along with those comments, BM (a politically incorrect acronym, if I must say so myself) suggests that all Leopard fans set the ringers on their cell phones to “cowbells.” In fact, he takes it even further, searching out and providing LSFF followers with Android, iPhone  and Windows Phone links for the sound of cowbells and a lion’s roar (the closest he could find, I guess, to a roaring leopard).

“1990honda”, not wanting to ruffle any feathers, went looking for some word on the possibility of carrying a cowbell into Fisher and found it: “noise makers” are on the list of “Non-Permitted items” in Fisher.

So, he says he’s leaving the cowbell at home. Unless he can be persuaded differently.

Personally, I really liked BM’s crazy idea about the cowbell ringer on the cell phones for getting the crowd into the game. So, I thought I’d try to sample the iPhone app. It was no problem, although when I tested it out at full volume, it about drove my wife crazy.

I’m thinking I’ll probably get the app – at just $1.29 – and use it on some more obscure function of my phone. That way I’ll have it if the program takes off at Fisher when Delaware visits the Leopards on Sept. 10.

Someone from LSFF will have to get in touch with the sports editor of “The Lafayette” so that the college paper can clue in the students to the cowbell-ringtone idea. I’m thinking every student would be willing to take part in a quirky show of support.

I can just hear it now. It’s a Delaware third down, six yards to go, on the Blue Hens’ first possession of the game. Lafayette P.A. announcer Dan Mowdy speaks three magic words.


At that instant, everyone in the stadium who has gotten the cowbell ringer app activates that thing. The one I tested has a six-second “ring”. Even if only all present LSFF posters and every parent of a football player is on board for the opening-night trial run, I’m thinking other phone-carrying people in the stands will want to join to to create a groundswell of Leopard enthusiasm when Villanova comes to town on Sept. 24. 

The Fargodome is the epitomy of FCS football support.
And even though I’m subject to the “no cheering in the press box” rule, I’ll be ready to break that rule one time. At least.

Thanks, “1990honda”, for getting the ball rolling. Thanks, Bogie, for the push. Now, let's go, guys! 

Things at Fisher will never rival the scene in the Fargodome, where  some 18,000 fans jam the place – most of them wearing yellow T-shirts – and create a deafening problem for opponents of their beloved North Dakota State Bison. That place is amazing. Ask anyone who made the trip for the 2011 season opener.    
Lafayette students turned out in big numbers to remember tight end
Brian Keller.

The best showing of support I’ve seen in the nine years I’ve been back on the Lafayette beat came last September when a large part of the student population put on their Brian Keller memorial T-shirts and sat together to honor the Leopard tight end, who was killed in an automobile accident during the summer.

But before that game was over, a lot of those students had left the stadium, and I never saw a strong rooting section again.

There’s no doubt that a successful team will attract a following, but I think a team that is struggling and can’t seem to find that magic moment that turns defeat into victory is every bit as deserving of partisan support as is the league champion.

Lafayette has what may be its most difficult football schedule in decades, with Colonial Athletic Association foes Delaware and Villanova both coming to Fisher in the month of September and the Leopards traveling to Central Connecticut State, Princeton and Army in other non-conference games.

The LSSF’s “1990 honda” says he will be making an 884-mile trip to every home game. And at this moment, he doesn’t have any guarantee about his son’s participation level.

Kevin will be coming up to Easton over the July 4 weekend to take part in the second four-week training session. Lafayette Coach Frank Tavani told me he’s expecting about 81 of his 88 rostered players that second four weeks.

That’s a unprecedented number and speaks to the commitment the players are making to one another and to the program. By the time preseason camp opens up the first week of August, even the rookie will have begun to bond.

The job for the Leopards this season is anything but easy. The kids appear to be all in. The coaching staff  is definitely on board. The mantra for 2016 is EAAT – Effort, Attitude, Accountability, Toughness. It’ll take a perfect mixture of all four to come up with a successful final product.

So, download those cowbell apps – after all, it’s a phone ringtone, not a noise maker -- and let the kids know where you stand. Squarely behind them. “1990honda” says the support of the fan base pumped him up during his days as  a player at Georgia Southern. He wants the same for his son.   

Can fan support make a difference? Show me.


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