The sun files up the sky, warming the late fall day. The stadium shakes as both teams line up for the opening kick-off. The student section is packed with screaming students in white Otter’s army shirts.
For some in the crowd, though, this isn’t just a football game; it’s a chance to support the Charger that they have “adopted.”
The Adopt a Charger Program is designed so that students may adopt a student-athlete to support throughout their season.
Mary Kate Drews, a senior working in the athletic department, helps organize the program.
“People on campus get to ‘adopt’ a Charger, so they get a shirt with a new design every year and their Charger’s last name and number on the back,” Drews said. “It’s a way for students to get to know athletes or vice versa, and get people to come to their games.”
The program, t‑shirt and all, costs only $6, and proves to be nothing but rewarding for both the adopter and Charger.
Grace Ferguson, a sophomore working in the athletic department, described her past year of adopting Chargers from both the football and men’s basketball team.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch them play, especially if you’re already friends with them,” Ferguson said. “I know lots of people tend to adopt people they know, but you can absolutely pick someone random. I’ve heard plenty of stories about people who become great friends by picking a random athlete to adopt.”
Gwen Buchhop, community relations coordinator for the athletics department, explained one such instance.
“I was assigned number 34, Jed Thompson. He was my Charger the whole time he was on the team, and I just went to his wedding two weeks ago,” Buchhop said. “It sounds silly and kind of trite, but it’s a good way to meet a new friend. I would not have gone to Jed’s wedding if I hadn’t adopted him.”
The program has grown to become quite large in recent years, with about 60 Chargers being adopted for each of the fall, winter, and spring seasons. This boost in involvement has come in large part from athletic department promotions as well as ads in the Student Activities Board newsletter
“We’re going to launch the announcement in the newsletter soon to adopt basketball players as well as indoor track athletes,” Buchhop said.
Through the dedication of Drews, Buchhop, and others, the Adopt A Charger Program has become an amazing experience for hundreds of students every year, and has made itself a staple of every sports season. Ferguson describes the fun she had during her first year in the program, as well as the potential for other students to make lasting memories.
“The program is a unique opportunity for students to love on their fellow students and encourage and appreciate them,” she said.
Students can now register to adopt an athlete for the winter in either basketball or track.