Roar of the crowd

An NCAA record crowd of 2,073 fans turned out for the field hockey team’s win over Bucknell. (Photo courtesy of Mike Kropf ’14)

For the past eight years, The Greatest Athletics March Ever—better known at Longwood as The G.A.M.E.—has marked the beginning of another academic and athletics year.

The universitywide event began in 2010 and has expanded over the past nine years to a full day’s worth of activities, including a pep rally, the unveiling of the annual Longwood scarf, a march through the town of Farmville and finally an athletics showdown hosted by one of Longwood’s fall sports.

As big as The G.A.M.E. has become, the 2018 edition of the town and campus celebration brought a whole new meaning to “Lancer pride.” On Aug. 24, the Longwood community set an NCAA Division I record when 2,073 people turned out for the field hockey team’s thrilling 2-1 win over Bucknell. It was the highest recorded attendance for a regular-season field hockey game since the NCAA began tracking such statistics in 2006.

Elizabeth Burger Jackson Field, named for legendary Longwood field hockey player and faculty member Dr. Elizabeth “Libby” Burger Jackson, was the site of the historic outpouring of support, which shattered the previous regular-season NCAA field hockey attendance record—1,788—set nearly a decade ago in a matchup between the University of California, Berkeley, and University of the Pacific.

Longwood’s record crowd is even more impressive considering the majority of Lancer fans made it to the game on foot, taking part in the march from the main campus to the Athletics Complex that covers more than 1.5 miles through Farmville.

“We just wanted to say thank you to the fans, and a huge thank you to everyone who stayed throughout,” said field hockey team captain Katie Wyman ’18, a kinesiology major. “It really helped us along. We felt [the crowd’s] energy, and we played with that energy.”

Susan Sullivan, director of the university center and student activities and a key organizer of The G.A.M.E. for 2018, was there to witness Longwood’s record-setting attendance.

“It was so great to see so many students participating in this year’s First Friday Back and The G.A.M.E. I loved seeing all the students march up Longwood Avenue to the Athletics Complex. This is a great event that kicks off the semester and brings the campus together. It’s also a wonderful collaboration between Longwood and the town."

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