By Dylan Hand
Shouts of “I believe in UNH,” “every day’s a great day to be a Wildcat,” and “go blue go white,” rang throughout Lundholm along with the energy from the pep band as students celebrated Wildcat athletics on Thursday night.
The first ever UNH Pep Rally was held to prepare students for the biggest weekend in UNH sports of the year. Students, athletes and coaches came together for a fun night celebrating the Wildcats. Organized by the ‘Cat Pack captains, the pep rally came to be to start a tradition around the annual UMaine versus UNH football game and the Brice-Cowell Musket, the prize awarded to the winner.
“I thought it went really well. It was a good foundation because we are trying to turn this into annual event,” said ‘Cat Pack captain Patrick Harvey. “We are trying to get a tradition around the musket.”
Sean McDonnell, head coach of the football team, reminded the crowd which team has dominated the musket in recent years.
“We’ve kept the g—d–n gun in New Hampshire for the last four years,” McDonnell barked to the crowd, receiving some of the loudest cheers of the night.
Men’s hockey coach Dick Umile offered his support for the football team playing against a shared rival.
“You know how we feel about bear hunting,” Umile said, referencing Maine’s mascot the Black Bears.
This type of inter-team support could be felt throughout the gym. Each coach mentioned not just their own games, but all the other games happening over the weekend. Players from the men’s and women’s hockey teams paired up with each other and fans for a goal scoring contest, while players from other teams cheered and laughed with the rest of the students.
In preparation for the football game, the ‘Cat Pack captains spent a few minutes going over their chants with the crowd.
The event was as much of a celebration of the players as it was a celebration of the students and fans. Players and coaches all shared the sentiment that the fans were the ones that brought all the energy to games, and they were quick to give thanks to the fans.
“There’s no better feeling as a senior to play for a crowd that knows your name,” said football captain Akil Anderson as he shouted to the crowd.
“We’ve got the best student section in all of Hockey East,” said Umile.
The successful event was a great start for something the both the Cat Pack and school administrators hope will grow in future year. School administrators shared this belief.
“The most important thing is that this was an initiative that the students took on themselves, and we’re really excited about that,” said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Marty Scarano.
“In all the years I’ve been here I’ve never seen such great enthusiasm among the students,” said UNH President Mark Huddleston. “It’s so exciting for me, it’s exciting for the teams, it’s just tremendous.”