This weekend, the AU Athletics Department will announce the launch of a new student fan group called “The AU Blue Crew” in an effort to increase campus support of the university’s athletic teams.
The Blue Crew will host a three-on-three basketball tournament this Saturday in order to raise their profile and encourage students to join the group.
“I was student government secretary last year, and one of the things I wanted done was increased involvement in athletics,” said Joe Vidulich, a junior in the School of Public Affairs and the president of the AU Blue Crew. “We wanted to give [the athletes] some recognition and show off some school spirit at the same time.”
The Blue Crew takes over the now-defunct Screaming Eagles as AU’s student fan club. The effort to create a new and more active group was spearheaded by both Vidulich and the athletic department, who wanted to promote the opportunity for students to take a more active role in supporting the school’s athletic teams.
“The Screaming Eagles wasn’t as unifying as it should have been,” said Vidulich. “[The group] was perceived poorly by the student body. There were no more than 25 students actively part of the group at the end of last year.”
Vidulich hopes that the Blue Crew’s plans to host events and be more active at games will encourage more students to want to take part. He notes that this year, there are already over 287 students registered.
Part of the group’s early success is owed to the communication between the athletics department and the Crew itself, a partnership that has resulted in a strong campaign for the group’s future.
“It is our goal in athletics to create events and a gameday environment with student input, which fosters great ideas and ownership on both parties to host an event that leaves students wanting to come back for more,” said Chris McDonnell, assistant director of marketing. “Our fall Blue Crew events schedule is designed to get students excited about athletics right from the start.”
The Blue Crew will be hosting several on-campus events, including the three-on-three basketball tournament and social this Saturday from noon until 4 p.m., a field hockey event on Sept. 22, “Phil Reeves” with men’s soccer on Oct. 21 and the second annual “Yell Like Hell” rally on Nov. 13.
“Beyond just people coming to games, we want to see people excited,” said Vidulich. “We’re one of the top political schools in the nation, but if you ask students on the quad what they take pride in, no one says athletics. We want to see more events focused on sports. It all revolves around people getting involved and excited, and really trying to get their attention.”
Students can register for the group at AUEagles.com or at any of the AU Blue Crew events. Participation includes a free T-shirt and special access to events, game promotions and giveaways.
“We want everyone who has pride in AU to be involved,” said McDonnell. “We know our students have the ability to make the AU Blue Crew the best home court advantage in the Patriot League.”