Raising Hell – From the desk of Nathan Hellman

The Stott Center felt significantly different during Saturday night’s conference title-winning volleyball match.

The Stott Center felt significantly different during Saturday night’s conference title-winning volleyball match.

For the first time in a long time, instead of seeming like a commuter school with apathetic students, the atmosphere in the Stott Center conjured up thoughts and visions of a legitimate collegiate sporting event with fans that actually care.

Rabid fans filled the stands and lined up along the court, cheering on the Vikings and, of course, heckling the reigning Big Sky champion Hornets. These aficionados generated enthusiasm, fiery fervor and, most importantly, energy that was palpable throughout the Stott Center.

There was drama, as Portland State slipped up in the first game and was then forced to rally back to claim three-straight games against a Sacramento State Hornet club with a potent offense and rock-solid defense.

Both squads displayed high-level competition and skill throughout the match, as it could easily be classified as the most hotly contested match-up of the season. The Vikings and Hornets put on a show worthy of deeming them the best rivalry in Big Sky athletics.

After being Sacramento State’s bridesmaids for the past two seasons, the Vikings deserve this title. They deserve some notoriety for their relentless, unyielding efforts. They deserve to win a plaque that says “conference champs.”

But the fans deserve this win just as much as the coaches or players.

All season long, a group of scantily-clad Viking fans have assembled beside the court at volleyball matches, with their faces and stomachs painted in green and black, and more passion than the entire student section at the football games.

I have no clue exactly why this rambunctious cluster of Viking fans decided to adopt the volleyball team, and not the hype-filled football team or a basketball squad with great potential. But, I’ll admit I liked the electric environment while it lasted.

This does not have to mark the end of such fandom–actually it could be just the beginning. Sure there will not be anymore volleyball matches in the South Park Blocks this season, however, plenty of basketball, tennis, softball, wrestling and track and field are still on tap, providing opportunities for Portland State students to demonstrate their passion and spirit.

At the beginning of the fall and with all the hype surrounding head coach Jerry Glanville’s football team, most thought the gridiron sport would foster the Portland State fan support more than any other sport. But volleyball has snatched the torch, and is now leading the way towards greater attendance figures and an electrifying student section.

Let’s hope, for the good of the school, that this brand of fandom permeates to each and every sport throughout the athletic department.

Athletic director Torre Chisholm and his associates should learn one rather obvious lesson from this recent volleyball-fanatic epidemic: If a team is successful the fans will come in bunches, and they’ll be wild, crazy and loud.

If all the other team’s under the athletic department’s supervision can follow that blueprint, soon Portland State could escape the tag of the ugly, laughable stepsister of the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers.