Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Message to UNH Hockey Fans

This is my TNH column for the week. It basically expands on what I said last week, but I wanted it to get a bigger audience.

Despite what you may think, I do not always write about partying, barhopping, and being generally awkward. This is college and college life is so much more than those things, especially here at UNH.

For example, there is also hockey. If you are an ill-advised freshman or an upperclassmen who has been living in a box during your time in Durham, hockey is a major part of UNH culture. Our fans live, breathe and die Wildcat hockey.

Friday and Saturday afternoon activities in the fall and winter consist of body painting and sign making. I grew up about a half hour drive from campus, and ever since I attended my first game as a 9-year-old, I looked forward to the day I could stand in the student section.

For the past three seasons, I have only missed a handful of home games and some of my favorite memories of my time at UNH relate to hockey games. If you do not get that excited feeling in your stomach this time of year or irresistibly smile every Monday morning when you pick up your student ticket, you are not a true UNH hockey fan.

UNH hockey fans are our own breed. We are proud of our school, our team and our classmates who make up the team. We may not know the players on a personal level, but you would never know that by the way we support them through good times and bad.

While every student has the right to get tickets and stand in the student section, UNH games are for the most dedicated students. There is a reason why the student section sells out, usually as well as the rest of the arena, for every game. UNH hockey games are for those true UNH hockey fans, not just the students who show up to games just because it is the thing to do.

The season is underway and so far things have been shaky for the team on the ice. They lost a lot last year, but they also return many key players and will be looking for younger players to step up. For the dedicated fans, the slow start has not been too much of a surprise, but we fully expect the team to improve throughout the season and transform into a true contender.

Have faith, because we have Wildcat blood running through out veins and the season is still very young.

Those of you who attended Saturday night's game against Boston College probably noticed a few changes among the crowd.

Namely, the super-fans who have led the student section for years have moved on and passed the cowbell down to current students. This has given us a great opportunity to create new traditions as well as carrying on the old classic ones that make the Whittemore Center one of the best college hockey arenas in the country.

The Wildcat Army, the name the new student leaders have taken up, has brainstormed new cheers, chants and songs. They can be found on Facebook and Twitter by searching their name if you want to learn more. Flyers and cheer sheets are in the process of being made.

Nothing annoys me more, apart from terrible refereeing (cough Hanson brothers), than students who show up to games and don't participate in the cheers. Or even worse, they mock their fellow students who work hard to make the Whitt the intimidating arena that it is. The irony of a kid wearing a "we are the 6th man" t-shirt leaving the game halfway through the third period kills me.

It may take a few more home games for the crowd to return to its normal rowdiness because of the transition, but we believe that this is for the better and will help current students create a better bond with the team. While hockey is, always has been and probably always will be UNH's top sport, we shouldn't forget about our other student athletes who wear Wildcat colors.

While schoolwork may take priority over some games, it is important to try and show your Wildcat pride for all the different sports. Football, both soccer teams, volleyball and field hockey all have a handful of home games left and the basketball and winter sports season is just around the corner. Try to make it to a few of those games to show your Wildcat pride, because college is the last chance you have to really have a connection with the athletes you cheer for.

Stay classy, not UMassy.


  1. The women's swimming and diving season runs through fall and winter. Meets are free to attend and they are the current reining ECAC Champions but most people don't even know we have a swim team. It would be nice for them to get some recognition as well

  2. i love UNH hockey. absolutely love it. but I gotta say, I really hate the "Wildcat Army." The two hockey games so far this year are not nearly as much fun as the games last year. No one knows these new cheers (and they're not that good) and who the hell chants new hampshire instead of UNH? just saying. I love UNH Hockey and I'll continue to go and scream until my lungs are sore but the Wildcat Army is kind of a huge fail.

  3. Hey buddy, Im sorry you feel that way about the Army and if you listen you'll learn the cheers we are also going to hand out cheer sheets, if we didn't make up new cheers it would be a morgue a lot of the time because our cheers only go so far without the new ones, #2 yelling UNH all the time gets old after awhile so why not mix it up a bit. Overall the Wildcat Army is not a fail at all just look at our facebook page, the cowbell crew didn't have half of what we have now. The crew was awesome but now its time for the Army and we are here to stay

  4. You know, if someone didn't take chances in the past, all the traditions you claim to love wouldn't exist. These kids are putting themselves out there and attempting to change what has become an awful atmosphere at the Whitt. Don't kid yourself...the "fun" you had last year doesn't hold a candle to the games even 5-10 years ago. And really? Criticizing the use of the school's actual name? On second thought, you're probably right; nothing says fun like repeating variations of one cheer ad nauseum. But that's just the opinion of one Alum who remembers when the Whitt actually rocked without Thunderstix.

  5. I think everyone needs to take a nice, cool glass of chill the f**k out. I admire the people who go to all kinds of lengths to build student morale, but there is admittedly a fine line between being passionate and being obnoxious. I'm not here to criticize, but it does seem like the wildcat army takes themselves too seriously, is slightly self-righteous ("Nothing annoys me more...than students who show up to games and don't participate in the cheers" et al.) Hockey games are for everyone. No one should have to do what you want at any given game. On the other side, I don't think the Army should be run from the arena. It's a process of trial and error, and they will figure out what works and what doesn't, without detracting from others' enjoyment of the game. In short, the Whittemore Center is first and foremost a place of entertainment, and people cannot be entertained in a judgmental, predatory environment. Please just let me enjoy the game as I see fit. Thank you.

  6. the new cheers aren't catching on as quick as you think. also, the army isn't nearly as loud as they cheer-leaders were last year, you can't even hear them in the front row: case in point, when we did the "hey digi we're all behind you" and then barely anyone cheered cuz no one even heard the guy say it. the loudest cheer we had was singing happy birthday.. no disrespect, just another point of view

  7. Ultimately, I agree with The New Hampshirite's initial argument with that something needs to be done. Saturday's student section(s) were pitiful. So whether that means The Wildcat Army is the answer or not is irrelevant, you at least need to give the guys props for doing something while everybody else stood around with their thumbs up their rears (if you don't mind me borrowing an expression my father uses).

  8. I don't see how anyone can call the group a failure after only two games where most of the student body didn't give a damn or even participate in the basic chants that have been around for years. Fundamental chants like "Go, Fight, Win!", "Go 'Cats Go!", "Let's Go 'Cats " had horrible participation. How can this failure be attributed to the group.

    Some of last year's games were huge and the only two so far from this year would never be able to live up to them, especially when the team is still trying to find their A-game. Hundreds of students left with over 10 minutes left, the team stays till the end to salute the fans, why is it so hard for the students to return that favor? It's the general attitude of the student body that is a failure and needs to change, not a new group of students that are just getting started.

    Anyone with feedback for the group is more than welcome to give it and join the cause of improving the Whitt's atmosphere, but so far nobody has had anything to say other than "Go Away".

  9. it's the first two games of the season, i think people need to chill out. the leader of the wildcat army was chosen to be the leader of the cheers for this year. i think an open mind going forward is going to help get the games the way they were last year. not all things can stay the same!

    oh and btw to the person 2 comments above- wildcat army isn't in the front they are in the middle in front of the band now..

  10. Hopefully as the team starts winning games, the students will realize what the Wildcat Army is trying to do. I feel that if the team got off to a better start and was winning games, this wouldn't even be an issue. A student section without leaders would be even worse than what it was on Saturday. Hopefully, with the help of some better play on the ice and with the trust of the student body the Wildcat Army can create an even better atmosphere in the Whitt than it already is.