As of Nov. 2, 2019, there have been 414 conference championships obtained by University of Wisconsin-La Crosse athletics teams, as well as 71 national championships earned and 82 athletes have been named CoSIDA academic all americans.
Mitchell Hall Gymnasium, where sporting events are held, can hold roughly 2800 people in its stands. However, most of these sporting events hold only a fraction of this capacity. In the 2019 season, the highest estimated number of people attending a volleyball match was 235, and this was on Oct. 4, 2019, against UW-Eau Claire.
Men’s and women’s basketball drew a larger crowd, with their highest number of people in the 2018-2019 season being roughly 644 people and 560, respectively. There are also sporting events that are held in other facilities/fields, including women’s soccer, baseball, women’s softball, etc.
Despite the attendance numbers, those in the athletic community do not feel like this reflects a lack of community support or school spirit. Head women’s soccer coach Jason Murphy believes that there is still a strong sense of community, no matter the number of attendees.
“Across the board, the staff, the community, everyone is proud of UWL,” said Murphy. Murphy does not see a lack of pride as the issue but more so that La Crosse has a lot to do in its city limits.
“When it’s warm weather, going to a soccer match is just one of the million things to do in La Crosse,” said Murphy. Likewise, when the weather is poor, Murphy claims it is hard to draw a large crowd to an outdoor sporting event.
Murphy also feels that UWL’s strong athletic program is something that people take for granted.“We are a victim of our own success,” said Murphy.
Murphy continued by saying that he feels that people know UWL athletics is successful, “People will always expect us to be successful, regardless of whether there is a large crowd to cheer the team on,” said Murphy.
Head women’s gymnastics coach Kasey Crawford shared some ideas to boost attendance at events. “I think we need more grassroots support, coaches and athletes in Whitney, the dorms, etc, promoting our meets,” said Crawford.
Crawford feels that her team does a great job drawing large crowds to their home meets, which she credits this to their junior eagle’s gymnastics program.
Crawford also feels that the timing of their meets, Friday nights, makes it easy to draw in large crowds.
Junior pin hitter for the women’s volleyball team, Elyse Weber, said, “I think that the midweek matches are awkward for people to plan around” and she feels like this could lead to decreased attendance.
Murphy said that he does not believe school spirit correlates to attendance. He believes that while it is great to draw large crowds, UWL athletics will continue to be successful with the community at large.“The university has an awesome reputation. Academically, athletically and the community is just awesome,” said Murphy.