By CHRIS RAIMONDI
Without games to play, Kennesaw State University’s football program has much more to build other than offense and defense. Establishing policy, consistency and tradition off the field will also need to fall into place before the inaugural season kicks off in the fall of 2015. It all begins now, with the students.
Shortly after the new football program was announced about a year ago, several committees were formed regarding game day activity. One of which comprises KSU students has begun to establish the groundwork for the student football culture.
“We really want the students to take initiative with it,” associate athletics director Katie Egloff said.
Everything from tailgating to in-game chants is currently being developed by KSU students.
An ‘Owl Walk’, where the players would walk into the stadium in front of fans before home games, chants, rituals between quarters and campus watch parties all are several ideas being tossed around in current student game day planning groups.
The upcoming scrimmage on Saturday, Oct. 11 at 3 p.m. will give students and the athletics department a chance to lay the foundation for future football game days. Combining factors of a stadium removed from the main campus, a new second campus in Marietta, surrounding businesses controlling the parking lots and zero football policy finalized, have resulted in the athletics department turning to students to have a voice in all aspects of building the football fan experience.
“We’re in a unique situation that most schools will never be in,” director of marketing and fan experience Brandy Chenoweth said. “It’s really important to us that the students are able to help shape what game day will look like. The fact of the matter is that a lot of traditions start from the fans.”
Football policy such as tailgating logistics, opening times of parking lots, ticketing and much more still remain incomplete. However, the student ticketing plan should be released “soon,” according to Chenoweth. The student section for football games has been selected and will be in the south end zone near the Big Shanty Road side of the stadium and it will face the video board.
Though majority of students’ questions remain unanswered, the homecoming scrimmage this weekend and the spring game in March should serve as measures as to how game days will feel at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
“It’s going to be a show,” Chenoweth said.
George Busbee Parkway outside of the stadium will be shut down and filled with vendors, the Atlanta Braves drum line will be on hand and football season tickets will be available for purchase. Students can expect a highly interactive event with music, food and giveaways. Chenoweth hinted that the athletic department will begin interacting with the fans through social media at the scrimmage where fans could get the chance to take the field and compete in skills competitions or possibly guest coach.
Though tailgating protocol isn’t finalized for football events, fans are encouraged to arrive early and hangout as the parking lots will open at noon on Saturday before the stadium opens at 2 p.m. The first 2,000 fans at the scrimmage will receive a free autograph book provided by Fifth Third Bank.
Following the scrimmage, the Owl Prowl will take place on the road behind the stadium in between the rugby field. The Owl Prowl will include an autograph session with the football team, food trucks and other entertainment aspects to keep fans occupied before the Wiz Khalifa concert later that night.
A FAQ page is currently being developed to provide an opportunity for all students to get involved.
“I know that there are a lot of rumors out there,” Chenoweth said. “That’s where we are trying to squash rumors and build this FAQ page for students where they can submit questions, submit ideas and then hopefully get some of their questions answered.”
The rumor regarding a student-only tailgate zone was recently put to rest.
“Essentially it would be a designated parking lot for students,” Egloff said. “Students would be the only ones that could get a parking pass to get in there, but that’s not to say you couldn’t bring a friend to it. It would just be more about the parking.”
Egloff went on to explain that the student lot would try to be closely related to the number of seats in the student section.
If students are interested in attending a student game day committee or have ideas they would like to voice, he or she may contact Egloff or Chenoweth or even tweet at KSUOwlNation.
“Any students interested in getting involved, we would love to have them,” said Egloff.