By Brianna Willis, Staff writer
For fraternity Sigma Chi, hosting a cookout over the weekend for the Murray State football team was a perfect opportunity to engage in fellowship and bridge two sides of student life together.
Zach Bogard, president of Sigma Chi, said athletics and Sigma Chi have always had some sort of connection.
“Sigma Chi and Murray State football have had a long-standing tradition of kind of being related because we’ve had brothers from our fraternity on the football team for the last 50 years,” he said.
However, Paul McCreary, treasurer of Sigma Chi housing corporation, said Sigma Chi has zero brothers on the football team this year.
“For whatever reason, our numbers of football players for the first time have dropped down to zero, so I don’t know where the disconnect was but there is a disconnect,” he said.
For this reason, McCreary said it is important to have events like a cookout because it helps the brothers get to know the football players and support them but also use it as a recruiting tool and show players they can also join a Greek organization.
Jacob Hicks, rush chair for Sigma Chi, said they wanted to use the opportunity to show the football team they are supported, and what Sigma Chi can offer them.
“One of the main reasons we wanted to do this is to build us and the football team closer,” he said. “We can show them what we have here, our place and cook food for them.”
Mitch Stewart, head coach for the Murray State football team, said events like these help bridge together two worlds on campus.
“As an athlete, you play better when you come out of that tunnel, you look in the stadium and it’s packed full,” he said.
For Stewart and the football players, knowing they are supported and have people on campus who want them to do well and appreciate their hard work is an important part of the college football experience.
“You got your boys up there and they’re waving their flags, the tailgating, all of that stuff is a huge recruiting tool for us,” Stewart said.
Chris Chandler, the Sigma Chi chapter adviser echoed this sentiment. He said what’s great about events like the cookout is for the team to know Sigma Chi is supporting them and what they do on Saturdays on the field.
Stewart said he had no problem with his players joining fraternities, as long as they still performed on the field.
“We always talk about developing players and that’s athletically, academically but also socially,” he said.
Chandler said they have discussed growing their efforts to other athletics, perhaps softball or soccer, but nothing is concrete yet. Stewart said he hopes the campus as a whole will grow and support the team more. He said he doesn’t understand why people on campus wear shirts from other universities in Kentucky like University of Kentucky, and on the weekends pack up and go home instead of enjoying all that Murray State and the football team have to offer students. He remains hopeful, as does Sigma Chi, that the relationship between Greek life and athletics can continue growing and that students will come out and support the team.
“That’s the great thing about sporting events – you’re not supposed to be cool, you’re supposed to act a nut and yell, sing and cheer,” Stewart said. “That’s what college football is all about.”