Over the years, the Georgia College athletic department has taken advantage of the small-school atmosphere to cultivate the sense of camaraderie between varsity athletes and build a family that spans across the varsity sports at the school.
“[Athletic Director Wendell Staton’s] plan is to not have separate teams, to just have one athletic department,” said junior baseball player Charlie Hecht. "I think he’s doing a really good job of that.”
Georgia College varsity athletes can be seen consistently supporting other GC sports throughout the season. Many teams even plan events and practices around the games of other sports in order to have the highest attendance possible. Due to the smaller size of GC, many athletes are friends with one another even though they play different sports.
“It is so fun to watch your friends do their sports,” said junior soccer player Unnbjorg Omarsdottir. “[The small campus helps] because people know each other. I know people on the other teams, so I want to go support them.”
While the coaches do a great job making sure their players are informed of when other teams have games, most players take the initiative to support other teams even when it is not required of them.
“They do team bonding events before the games,” said volleyball head coach Gretchen Krumdieck. “Like they’ll go to dinner before going to a basketball game.”
Krumdieck also talked about how the softball team played laser tag before the players came to support the volleyball team.
Each GC team highlights one important game each season as their “Sea of Green” game where nearly every GC athlete comes out to support the team to give them that extra boost. The name “Sea of Green” comes from the athletes in support all wearing the same green GC t-shirt.
“It was awesome to look up and see other athletes cheering you on,” said Hecht on the baseball team’s Sea of Green game from last year. “It was nice having a ton of fans there.”
This system has been especially significant for sports that aren’t typically spectator-based, like cross country. Hecht mentioned the Sea of Green meet for the cross country team.
“It was awesome for [the cross country team] when we were there, us all standing at the finish line,” said Hecht.
While the attendance of athletes at GC sporting events has been great, some players feel that the school can do a better job in encouraging attendance from the general student body.
Sophomore Garrick DeBowles, a redshirt basketball player, said he thinks GC could do a better job “promoting the games a little more, hyping them up a little more.”
For Assistant Athletic Director Al Weston, this has always been a challenge. But Weston is hopeful that the attendance of GC athletes at games will help promote the attendance of other GC students.
“If I go to that sea of green game, I see how raucous [the game is], and everybody is excited and everybody is fired up, and [if I were a student] I go ‘wow this is an atmosphere I’m going to want to come back and do this again,’“ Weston said.
Attendance isn’t always easy for student-athletes to fit into their busy schedules, but Omarsdottir said she always enjoys going to the games.
“It’s really hard, but because I enjoy going and watching, I feel like you can get away from the stress and just enjoy other people’s success,” Omarsdottir said.
The size of Georgia College has helped to foster the relationship between student-athletes at the school, and the athletic department holds events with all the teams to get to know each other throughout the semester.
“On campus, I feel like it’s a big family,” said Hecht. “There’s a lot of positivity, and it’s fun to be around.”