Show us your spirit
Painted faces, homemade signs, t-shirts and hoodies emblazoned with MRU or a roaring Cougar and maybe even a continuous round of the wave? Add it all up and you have the recipe for MRU school spirit.
With an athletic program as successful as the Cougars — winning 123 ACAC championships since 1965 and 18 CCAA championships since 1974 — school spirit should be at the forefront of our newly christened university.
“I think it’s been something that’s been improving in years,” said Kyle Henry, events and communications coordinator for Cougar Athletics.
Henry said that Cougar event attendance numbers have been growing since Mount Royal became a university.
With new degree programs that will have students remaining at MRU for four or five years opposed to one or two, Henry said that students will have a “bigger sense of community with the Cougars.”
If you’ve seen movies like Varsity Blues or Hoosiers or TV shows like Friday Night Lights, it’s easy to see how much school spirit resides in American high schools and colleges.
Walk the streets of any American university city the night of a football game —heck, the night of any sporting match — and you’ll see the locals, student or not, draped in their team’s colours.
Henry said that MRU, as well as other schools in Canada, have a bit of an issue compared with the states but that he is happy with MRU’s school spirit in comparison with our budget.
MRU’s athletic budget is between $250,000-$300,000, per year. The money goes towards things like travel, team expenses and coaches’ wages.
Cougar Athletics works well with its budget, especially when you look at what some of the American universities and colleges are pulling in for their yearly budgets. For example, ultimatesportsinsider.com reported that Texas Southern had a budget increase this year bumping them to a whopping $7.7 million a year for their athletic program.
Henry said that one major issue with drawing crowds to Cougar events is that games tend to be on Friday and Saturday nights when students are busy off campus. There isn’t a C-train that comes to MRU and buses don’t run as often at night.
“That can be a bit of a challenge sometimes,” he said.
For those reasons, Cougar Athletics has been spending a lot of time working with students in residence. One example of this strategy is if a resident advisor brings 10 or more students from their MRU residence community to a Cougar game, they’ll get drinks, snacks and Cougar swag for free.
Other school spirit motivators include the Cougar Prowl at Cougar games. The Cougar Prowl goes around during games rewarding people wearing MRU and Cougar gear with prizes. Fans wearing the gear of other schools and teams are given a “busted” sticker and 50 per cent off MRU gear.
Cougar Athletics can sometimes be seen handing out packs of gum with announcements on them on Main Street. Henry said that a lot of times the actual athletes hand out these announcements allowing students to get to know their faces which could also improve school spirit.
“I think more people attend games if they know someone,” he said.
On Nov. 13 to “Celebrate the new U!” there was a silent auction during the men’s and women’s volleyball matches including signed jerseys from Flames Daymond Langkow and Jarome Iginla, two tickets to anywhere Westjet flies, and an hour long volleyball lesson with Amanda Moppett of the Canadian beach-volleyball team.
If you’re looking to juice up your school spirit you can pick up Cougar gear at the recreation desk. If you’d like to see what’s available before making a purchase, merchandise can be found on mtroyal.ca/cougars at the Cougar store.