Donning blue and gold while cheering the Racers on to victory, the student section has an important role in every athletic event at Murray State. For that reason, the student section continues to make changes that attract more students.
Murray State’s official student section is called the Stampede and students are able to get involved from the day they set foot on campus.
Those enrolled as full-time students at Murray State fork over $10 of hard-earned cash and in turn, are provided with several perks for University-hosted athletic events.
Some of the privileges included with the Stampede membership are early entry to games and free Racer merchandise.
“One of the best parts of being in the Stampede is the free stuff you get,” said Hannah Knapp, senior from Xenia, Ill. “You also get entered into a drawing to win tickets to the NCAA tournament which is pretty cool.”
According to Kenny Martin, senior intern for the athletic marketing department, the Stampede provides students with more merchandise and privileges than they have in previous years.
“The Stampede has a few perks – a Stampede shirt with membership, tickets pre-printed and different promotions throughout the year,” Martin said. “Currently we hand out free sunglasses and water bottles to all the Stampede members.”
The Stampede, however, provides members with more than just Racer merchandise. Being a part of the Stampede gives students common interests, according to Martin.
“The Stampede is important to Racer Athletics because it kind of identifies our fans,” Martin said. “It also gives them a common identity and through that it helps develop that bond (between students). When you see someone else in the Stampede shirt in the front row of the CFSB, you both know you’re a Racer fan.”
Despite the experience fans gain, the Stampede has dwindled in attendance.
“A few years back, during the awesome season, there seemed to be more benefits for students,” Knapp said.
To combat the problem of low attendance and also to gain a following from more students, the Stampede has made many improvements including more promotions and social network outreach.
“We offer the same perks as before, but we definitely have more promotional items available for students,” Martin said. “The biggest improvement has been recruiting more Stampede members from the social media outreach. We keep in contact with the students very quickly over social media.”
In response to the Stampede’s use of social networking to communicate with students, the members are taking full advantage of the platforms by posting updates and pictures from the events, especially Twitter.
“Twitter is our biggest outlet,” Martin said. “As long as students follow us on Twitter or Facebook, they get all of our updates. We encourage fans to use hashtags to tweet out pictures from the games. It all helps foster better communication.”
The improvements in communication between Stampede members create a better following and experience, according to Martin.
“The more fans we have that are dedicated to Racer Athletics, the better we will look to the players on the court, the opposing team and the more fun people have,” Martin said. “If you sit at a basketball game with five other people, it is not as fun as if you are sitting with 500 other people.”
The Stampede looks to gain more members by implementing its reward system and sticking to it this year. According to Martin, the goal for the future of the Stampede is to make it the “group to be in,” when it comes to getting involved at Murray State.
Story by Hunter Harrell, Features Editor