Feb. 13, 2013
Indulge me for but a moment, as I take you back to good ole’ Alumni Gym on February 22, 2011. The Brown Box was shaking, teaming with fans, all jeering and screaming. The air was nauseating, like it was smothered in a fog of ether, as the noise grew louder. I remember looking up from the bench, a mere freshman, and seeing hundreds of dangling legs over the track of the famed gym. But my attention quickly turned to the court as our rivaled opponents entered the gym: The Lewis University Flyers.
As the game began, the fans cheered harder. It was exhilarating and stimulating, yet calming. The game was a contest of physicality, with Mike Bunting and Joseph Smalzer powering away over 20 kills each.
But that is not what made it memorable.
It was in the fifth set when the back-and-forth game came to rest at 19-all. The crowd had been standing since set two, and a kill by Bunting gave us the final set point as the victory began fanning its way down to the court. Although it was Dainis Berzins who tolled the last bell, the crowd had long since established a winner and the ball hardly had time to kiss the hardwood before the fans burst over the bleachers and stormed the court. I remember joining in, jumping high into the air, hoping to be caught in a snapshot by the photographers. It was an extraordinary feeling, winning that hard-fought game and watching Lewis pull their jerseys over their heads, skulking off the court back to Romeoville. That night, like so many others in Alumni Gym, was more than a volleyball game. It was a lasting experience and a display of incredible school spirit and unity.
Today’s ‘LUMVB Model’ is different than in years past. With the wonderful gift of a newly renovated Gentile Arena, there come a few drawbacks (although I would never begin to express that I am ungrateful). The atmosphere is different, clearer and less energizing. The music pumps and the fans get rowdy at times, but it seems that the gym has sucked out some of the once-great vigor that Loyola thrives on.
Having said this, I do not believe it is unfixable. Yes, it greatly rests on our shoulders to perform and win, but the fans play a big factor in the win as well. Just like in years past, the fans have a say in the outcome.
This weekend is no better time to rebuild the atmosphere of Alumni Gym and to be a part of another win. Lewis is coming back to Loyola, crutching on their success from last year’s MIVA semifinal win.
We have other plans.
I ask you to not only come out and support us, but to become a part of the match this Saturday night. The feeling is unlike any I have ever experienced. Come out, cheer loudly and with pride, and let’s stomp the Flyers at our house!