If you have seen a student-athlete walking around on campus with an “All In for Goshen” purple T-shirt, you may have noticed that there is a schedule on the back of the shirt, including a game from each athletic team’s schedule.
While they may look like a random selection of games, these games have been designated as Maple Leaf Pride Nights, where everyone in attendance is encouraged to wear purple. New this year, Pride Nights look to grab the attention of students and fans to come out and support Maple Leaf athletics.
Harold Watson, athletic director, gave all of the student athletes an “All In for Goshen” purple T-shirt at the beginning of the year. The selected competitions on the back were games that included a rivalry, a really tough opponent or games that would have fans on the edge of their seats.
Throughout the day of a Pride Night, Watson and members of Goshen’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), will randomly hand out “All In for Goshen” T-shirts to staff members and other students. They will even throw some into the crowd during the game.
As athletes, Watson believes that it is important to support one another and that these Pride Nights are a great way to get teams more involved. He is hoping to change the culture around athletics and believes that supporting one another is a big step in having a successful culture at GC.
But these games are not just for athletes. All students, staff, faculty and parents are encouraged to participate by wearing purple.
“It’s really about the athletic department growing our excitement for each other, supporting each other at games and hoping that it can translate to all of campus,” said Watson.
Pride Nights, however, aren’t the only efforts being made to achieve this goal. SAAC has more events planned throughout this school year. They are hosting a cornhole tournament, a can drive, making gift bags for the homeless, tailgates before games, cookouts at games and a campaign called “Leaf for Leaf,” where athletes take selfies of themselves at another athletic team’s game.
SAAC is a student-led committee where student-athletes have a voice and feel like they can make a difference in their athletic programs. Katherine Boyer, president of SAAC, explained how SAAC strives to find ways to bring student-athletes together and how they have more events planned throughout this school year.
The next Maple Leaf Pride Night is on Nov. 10 as men’s and women’s cross country competes against local rivals at the Bethel University Invitational.