Relations between SSU and the surrounding Rohnert Park community have been somewhat rocky to say the least. But with new initiatives from the Sports Management Group, Sonoma State’s athletics may hold the key to bridging that gap.
“We are a key component of the Sonoma State Athletics Association,” said junior Garret Gooch, the special events assistant for the Sports Management Group. “We raise money for the Athletic Association so that we can have games, give out scholarships, and increase game turn out.”
The Sports Management Group collaborated with Associated Students and NomaNation to orchestrate Pack the Pub last week, and are continuing to organize events both on and off campus.
“I played for the tennis team my first two years and I was always big on school spirit,” said Gooch. “I realized that I wanted to be as involved as I had been in high school, and that I wanted to show people that it’s not an exclusive thing to go to a game, it’s the thing.”
The group also made a large appearance at the Rohnert Park Founder’s Day Parade on Saturday, with roughly 25 athletes, 12 crew members, and six cheerleaders all combating the torrential downpour.
“When we were waiting for the parade to begin it was pouring rain, and at that point I didn’t think any teams were going to show up, and then out of nowhere this whole pack of soccer girls on their bikes just soaked in water and laughing,” said Gooch. “It was the sickest thing ever.”
In order to get the community more involved and supportive of SSU athletics, the Sports Management Group is working to increase their presence off campus by tabling at local events, such as the Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market on Oct. 11.
“There’s always going to be separation in communities because of things that happen off campus and things that happen on campus, and I think one of the good things about athletics is that it’s one of those places where we can meet,” said Gooch. “Because who knows, sometimes the person they’re yelling at one night is the baseball player they’re cheering for the next Saturday.”
The group is also working to include the families of the donors by involving their children in SSU athletics. Donors who have children that play sports may receive things like T-shirts or signed basketballs or baseballs from SSU athletes.
To show their appreciation, the group is hosting an event called Homecoming Hospitality, in which donors and their families will receive free admission, food, drink and T-shirts at the men’s and women’s soccer game on Oct. 11.
“Most people are down to go to a game of some sort, whether it be for the hot dogs or the beer, or whether they’re really into going and watching a basketball game, or maybe someone’s just there cause they like to yell and they like to act like they’re a part of a big thing because it makes them feel good,” said Gooch. “It’s fun being a part of a community that’s all going towards one big thing, which is Sonoma State winning the game. And that is the bridge.”
Not only is the Sports Management Group working to increase community support, but also student support and game attendance. The group is working to put together a street team of spirited individuals that can help set up for events as well as table, and be available on short notice to help support the athletics teams.
Finally, on Nov. 15 and 16 the group will be hosting the Ron Logsdon Basketball Classic, honoring veterans. Logsdon attended SSU and received a degree in history in 1968. He then worked as a teacher and a political aide in the California State Senate before joining the Army.
Logsdon received the Bronze Star and the Vietnam Service Medal for his bravery, and then returned to SSU as the Executive Director of the Student Union. One year later, he began to mentor students who worked in the Career Center and went on to be a program developer for the center for 18 years.
In December of 1999 Logsdon passed away after a long battle with HIV-AIDS. Basketball Coach Pat Fuscaldo then established the annual Classic in Logsdon’s memory.
Perhaps with this new community-oriented approach, SSU will not only improve its relationship with the community, but also increase the sense of community within SSU itself.