The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

How important is fan attendance to Panther athletes?

Fall athletes appreciate the support from Panther fans at their games.

Multiple aspects go into the actual game for a team, and one of those aspects is fan attendance.

Some Panther athletes think the fan attendance has helped their home performances.

Football Head Coach Chris Wilkerson and the Panthers are currently 2-0 at O’Brien Field to start the 2023 season.

After the Panthers beat the McNeese Cowboys 31-28, junior wide receiver Eli Mirza talked about how the fans helped the team rally back for the win.

Junior wide receiver Eli Mirza and redshirt junior tight end Anthony Manaves felt grateful for the Panther fans that attended the 31-28 win against the McNeese Cowboys. (File)

“[The fans] were rocking out every third down,” Mirza said. “I couldn’t even hear myself talk out here, and it was amazing.”

Redshirt junior tight end Anthony Manaves says he is grateful for the supporters that come to games.

“The more people we have there, the more support we feel we have, and we never wanna let the people down,” Manaves said. “[I’m] really grateful for the people who come and cheer on the Panthers.”

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Phoenix Porter says the fans help distract the Panthers’ opponents, which helps Porter and the Panthers’ defense.

“The crowd plays a major role,” Porter said. “Especially for the defense. When it gets loud, it makes it harder for the other team to communicate. As far as the whole team, every player wants to play in front of a packed-out stadium and loud fans. It creates an atmosphere that helps players really get in that zone.”

Volleyball Head Coach Sara Thomas and the Panthers are currently 5-1 at Lantz Arena to start the 2023 season.

Junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Flynn and sophomore middle blocker Kate Dean reflected on the student section during the 3-0 win over the University of Missouri Tigers on September 14.

Junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Flynn and sophomore middle blocker Kate Dean appreciate the support from the EIU student section. (File)

“I think our student section is crazy,” Flynn said. “I know for the first game against Missouri, they really helped us. The third set against [Missouri] was crazy so having them was a really big factor to keep our energy high.”

“The student section and everyone supporting us was pretty cool,” Dean said. “I knew [the student section] were going to storm the court, so I was really excited about that.”

Freshman libero/defensive specialist Masyn Navarro thinks Panther fans have a significant impact on the team.

“It makes the environment super loud, and I think it intimidates the other teams,” Navarro said. “It also makes it a more fun environment, and it’s cool to see all the support we have!

Men’s soccer Head Coach Josh Oakley and the Panthers are currently 1-2-2 at Lakeside Field to start the 2023 season.

Fifth-year defender PJ Allen Jr. thinks the energy from the fans carries on to the players.

“I think fan attendance has a positive effect on a team’s performance,” Allen said. “When you hear fans rooting for you, the team feeds off their energy, it boosts their confidence and it raises their energy, especially during a tough game.”

Senior forward Sam Eccles says that the energy from the fans helps him stay motivated throughout the games.

“It’s a huge factor,” Eccles said. “The more people at the games cheering for you just raises the level. It always gives you that extra bit of energy and motivation, especially late on in games.”

Women’s soccer Head Coach Dirk Bennett and the Panthers are currently 1-3-1 at Lakeside Field to start the 2023 season.

Freshman forward Alex Tetteh thinks fan attendance is important to the team.

“I think that fan attendance is very important for our games,” Tetteh said. “Having a good fan base each game helps support the team and give us extra motivation to play our best at every moment.”

Redshirt freshman defender/midfielder Liz Galvin thinks the fan attendance can be used as an advantage against their opponents.

“It definitely brings the energy up at our games and makes us feel supported,” Galvin said. “It’s nice having that extra advantage when we’re at home.”

Junior midfielder Avery Richardson is grateful for the Panther fans who support the team in person, and she’s also grateful for the fans who support online when the team plays away from their home field.

“We are all thankful for the turnout no matter what that looks like,” Richardson said. “It is a different challenge being on the road and not having as many fans present at the event. Nevertheless, knowing that friends and family are watching online or keeping up with stats is motivation itself!”

Eastern fans make more of an impact than they think for the athletes, and EIU athletes hope to continuously see support from Panther fans.

Zaria Flippin can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Zaria Flippin
Zaria Flippin, Sports Editor
Zaria Flippin is a junior sports media relations major. This is her first year at The News.

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