Former, current, and future Catamounts filled the U.S. Cellular Center to watch a phenomenon which hadn’t occurred since 1996.
Catamount Pride was far from lacking at the 2012 Southern Conference Championship game Monday night, March 5, as a sea of purple and the roar of chants filled the U.S. CellularCenter, previously known as the Asheville Civic Center. SoCon reports the attendance total for the game was 6,049. Judging by the amount of purple vs. red, WCU was for sure dominating the fan zone.
WCU sports have struggled for a number of years in various areas, but Monday night the crowd was convinced we were a Division I school, cheering as if their teams never loose. The school support was unbelievable. If you are a WCU football fan you understand the stands clearing after half-time, but not at this game. Chancellor Belcher and Purple Thunder joined the crowd, leading the students in chants and cheers for their team, creating a sense of Pride in WCU many students have never seen.
Many changes are happening on WCU’s campus, beginning with WCU naming Dr. David Belcher as their Chancellor last April. After 16 years Belcher was named the 11th Chancellor of WCU. As the 2011-2012 school year was underway, more changes occurred in the Athletic Department. In November Randy Easton was named the new Athletic Director of WCU. Just weeks after the announcement of a new athletic director, WCU announced Mark Speir would be the new head Catamount football coach. Not only was it exciting Speir was coming from archrival Appalachian, but he has deep Catamount roots himself, having previously attended and worked at WCU.
An active Chancellor, student government, and student body can change a school’s atmosphere. Showing interest and caring for a school can change a school’s atmosphere. Being a senior, I have never seen SGA or a Chancellor so involved in student’s lives before this year. Having these people in high places willing to talk and listen makes a world of difference in student’s eyes. High-fives, handshakes, and warm greetings make students feel important and welcomed to their university.
Do I believe good athletics make a school good? No, but I do believe when your Chancellor strives to improve areas which are lacking, that makes a good school better! Not only is his willingness to meet students, participate in student activities and attend events impressionable on students, but his wife’s personality shines as well. Always greeting others with smiles, encouraging students and Catamount Pride and standing by her husband’s side.
WCU is transforming. Campus is expanding, personnel is changing, and the attitude of student support is improving. In the next ten years I hope to see this college campus explode with Catamount Pride. We offer a great education, an improving athletic department, and a student body willing to support each other.