For the past eight years, The Greatest Athletics March Ever – colloquially referred to on Longwood's campus as The G.A.M.E. – has signified the start to another academic and athletic year on the campus of Longwood University.
The annual university-wide event began in 2010 and has expanded over the past nine iterations to celebrate the upcoming year with 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 a Longwood athletics showdown hosted by one of Longwood's fall sports.
And as big as The G.A.M.E. has become during that time, the ninth edition of the town and campus celebration brought a whole new meaning to 'Lancer Pride.'
It really helped us along; we felt (the crowd's) energy, and we played with that energy.Katie Wyman, field hockey team captain Tweet This
In the culmination of this past Friday's The G.A.M.E. 9.0, the Longwood community set an NCAA Division I record by bringing 2,073 people to the field hockey team's thrilling 2-1 win over Bucknell, the highest recorded attendance for a regular season 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 saw Longwood shatter the previous regular-season field hockey attendance record of 1,788 set in a matchup between California and Pacific Oct. 4, 2008, nearly a full decade ago.
That crowd moved Longwood to the top of a list that includes every Division I field hockey program in the nation. The previous largest crowd in the Commonwealth of Virginia was 1,728 when UConn took on Duke in the 2013 NCAA Championship game.
In even more impressive fashion, the majority of those Lancer fans made it to Friday's game by foot, taking part in a march 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 after the 2-1 win Friday night. "It really helped us along; we felt (the crowd's) energy, and we played with that energy."
The 2,073 individuals at Friday night's contest sits third on the all-time list of largest crowds at an NCAA field hockey game behind only two National Championship contests in 2007 and 2010.
This record is something the entire campus should be proud of, as everyone had a hand in etching Longwood University's name into the NCAA record books.Troy Austin, Longwood athletics director
"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," said director of the University Center and Student Activities Susan Sullivan, who was a key player in the organization of The G.A.M.E. 9.0. "This is a great event that kicks off the semester and bring the campus together. None of this could have happened without the help of our volunteers, Campus Police and the Town of Farmville. It's a wonderful collaboration between Longwood and the town."
Longwood athletics director Troy Austin, who has been in his post for all nine editions of The G.A.M.E., echoed Sullivan's sentiment.
"It's been a wonderful thing to watch this event grow every year," said Austin, who spearheaded this year's march alongside Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV. "To have such consistently passionate participation not only from our Longwood students, but from our faculty and staff and the Town of Farmville as well is a great initiative to be a part of. I'd like to thank everyone on campus who had a hand in the planning process, the volunteers who sacrificed their time to make sure the event ran smoothly, and to everyone who made the trip up Longwood Avenue to the Athletics Complex and stayed throughout. Longwood athletics extends a huge thank you and appreciates your support, time and effort. This record is something the entire campus should be proud of, as everyone had a hand in etching Longwood University's name into the NCAA record books."
NCAA Field Hockey Single-Game Attendance Records
|Rk.||Att.||Team vs. Opponent, Location||Date|
|1.||2,381||Maryland vs. North Carolina (NCAA Championship, College Park, Md.)||Nov. 21, 2010|
|2.||2,374||North Carolina vs. Penn State (NCAA Championship, College Park, Md.)||Nov. 18, 2007|
|3.||2,073||Longwood vs. Bucknell (Farmville, Va.)||Aug. 24, 2018|
|4.||1,788||California vs. Pacific (Berkeley, Calif.)||Oct. 4, 2008|
|5.||1,784||Maryland vs. Boston (College Park, Md.)||Oct. 7, 2007|
|6.||1,734||Maryland vs. Wake Forest (College Park, Md.)||Sept. 22, 2007|
|7.||1,728||UConn vs. Duke (NCAA Championship, Norfolk, Va.)||Nov. 24, 2013|
|8.||1,694||North Carolina vs. UConn / Penn State vs. Wake Forest (NCAA Semifinals, College Park, Md.)||Nov. 16, 2007|
|9.||1,617||Maryland vs. North Carolina (College Park, Md.)||Oct. 23, 2010|
|10.||1,590||UConn vs. Syracuse (NCAA Championship, College Park, Md.)||Nov. 23, 2014|
Longwood (1-0-0) will look to improve to 2-0-0 Thursday, Aug. 30, as the Lancers welcome UMass-Lowell to Elizabeth Burger Jackson Field. First touch is set for 4 p.m.