Texas Tech's Sixth Man|
Lady Raider fans have come out in droves to support the team this season.
Jan. 13, 2011
by Alexandra Ellis
There's nothing like a Lady Raider fan.
They flood the United Spirit Arena by the thousands, bringing with them home-made signs and shirts, cheering on their favorite team. They can be quite intimidating to the visitors, while also giving them a warm welcome to the West Texas home of Texas Tech basketball.
Coquese Washington, head coach of the Penn State Lady Nittany Lions, even acknowledged the crowd after the thrilling game, which the Lady Raiders won in the final seconds. A season high 8,923 rowdy Lady Raider fans packed the United Spirit Arena on Dec. 3, 2011.
"This was a great basketball environment," Washington said after the game. "This is a great place to play a game. The fans were into it. They are knowledgeable. They didn't yell stupid stuff. They yelled some pretty good stuff."
Most of all, the fans are there to support their Lady Raiders, win or lose.
The Lady Raiders are off to one of their best starts in the past six seasons, and the fan base has noticed. Fan attendance has steadily increased over the season, and it shows in comparison to the 2010-11 season. The average attendance in the first eight home games has increased from 6,200 fans in 10-11 to 7,000 this season.
The support does not go unnoticed by Lady Raider head coach Kristy Curry.
"The fans inspire us," said Curry on Thursday. "They really make a difference. They give you a boost in your performance before a second even goes off the clock. It's what home court advantage is all about."
Curry has adopted the fans as honorary members of the team because of the boost of the boost that they give them.
"They are definitely our sixth man," Curry said. "We're playing six on five and it's important to have their support."
Before the season began, Curry and the team's two seniors, Jordan Barncastle and Kierra Mallard, went to select season ticket holders' homes and hand delivered their season tickets, much to the delight of the receiving Lady Raider fans.
"We just want folks to know how much we appreciate them," Curry said. "To get out and support our local community that supports us is imperative. The least we can do is go out and say `thank you'. We wish we could have shaken every single ticket holders' hands."
This will not be the only season the Lady Raiders give back. Curry plans to do the same thing next season for different season ticket holders, with a different group of players next year.
It's obvious that the one thing more important than winning for Curry and the Lady Raiders is showing their support for the community that supports them in their home.
"We just appreciate our community," said Curry. "We want to get out and give back, and say thank you and support all different types of events in the community, because our community supports us.
"We're all in this together. And we're all in this in the United Spirit Arena when 40 minutes goes up for basketball. We're all in this to make this a better community every day."
Coming off the first loss of the season to the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman, Ok on Wednesday, Curry took note of the Sooners' home crowd.
"We faced a great Oklahoma crowd," Curry said. "I don't think the crowd affected us as much as it inspired Oklahoma."
The Lady Raiders have turned the page and are re-energized and excited to be back home after two tough Big 12 Conference road tests, at Missouri, then Oklahoma. The No. 10 Lady Raiders (14-1, 2-1) face an energized Kansas State (12-3, 2-0) at the USA on Saturday with a 2 p.m. tip-off.
"After last night, it was incredible how many folks let these kids and the staff know, hey, we're good, we're going to be there for you Saturday. And we need the same thing Oklahoma had going on Saturday," Curry continued.
"We need a large crowd."