Two years ago, former Mirror Sports Editor Bryan Mahoney wrote a column in his final issue about how the University needs to generate a greater degree of school spirit. He even acknowledged his own flaw of being too much of a fan rather than an objective journalist when covering Fairfield’s athletics.

While I am nowhere near the in-depth fan as the prior two Mirror Sports Editors, I have had a unique experience that they did not have, and it directly shows that the University has made strides in instilling the “Stag spirit.”

Coming into the fall semester, we had a small staff and innovative ideas but no bodies.

This has been an unwelcome trend over the past two years and limited sports coverage. However, within the first two months, an editor’s dream occurred and the sports section grew to as many as a dozen staff members.

We took full advantage by establishing beat coverage and The Mirror Sports Blog, but it was not the love of journalism that brought these staff members, it was their devotion to Fairfield athletics.

Freshmen and sophomores who had little to no experience with journalism or even Fairfield athletics, were such fans that they were willing to devote more time than any of them want to admit.

Whether it was sitting through practices, attending out of state games or asking the toughest questions, they did it and without blinking.

Why the sudden change?

There are several factors that I have seen and while I can’t give all the credit to one person, there are some figureheads and groups that deserve credit. First and foremost is FUSA President Hutchinson Williams.

Now, I definitely do not support how FUSA operates or its decisions, but the “Fear the Deer” mentality and “Return of the Red Sea” that has been instilled in the underclassmen is a tremendous step in the right direction.

The return of basketball games to Alumni Hall as well as pre and post-game events have really begun to unite the University and make athletics a part of the college experience.

The success of the athletic programs has also helped.

Men’s soccer and lacrosse continue to raise the bar and set University precedents. Men’s Basketball Head Coach Ed Cooley endeared himself to the Fairfield community. Women’s soccer continues to play at a high level and softball has been a MAAC contender over the past two seasons.

While the University has a lot of downfalls coming, the athletics have shown true promise, as has the school spirit. While there is definitely work to be done, the athletic department and students have shown a commitment to continuing and grow athletics on campus.

I consider myself lucky to have worked with some of the finest sports writers The Mirror has ever seen and they will only continue to excel. It feels as if I am leaving a family, but in reality I am just going back to joining a much greater group: the Fairfield fans.

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