Britney Dixon | Sports Manager
Partial nudity and dancing aren’t the first few words that come to mind when thinking about a volleyball game, but when it comes to Roger Williams University, there’s always a way to spice up the crowd.
Tuesday night the Hawks matched up against Salve Regina University in their first home game in over three weeks. Fellow students and families alike showed up with heaps of enthusiasm and adrenaline to support the RWU women’s volleyball team.
The swimming and diving team, led by their head coach Matt Emmert, each came prepared with 25 articles of clothing, plus their swimsuits: one for each point for the Hawks’ to score.
According to sophomore Billy Ebersold, who joins the team at most of other Hawk home games, most of the whole time was aware of the idea and was excited to participate.
“Our coach always comes up with weird ideas and texts us at like 1:00 a.m.,” Ebersold said.
The idea originated at Southern Illinois University as a way to get the team, and athletic department as a whole, to bond. It was so well-received by the volleyball and swim teams at SIU, that they created the domain of the “Saluki Strip” which is now being brought to other schools.
“I thought it’d be cool for our team to do in support of our own volleyball program,” Emmert said. “So, I passed it along to [women’s volleyball head coach Dani Soubliere] and she was all about it. It’s good ole college sports fun.”
“It’s great to see RWU athletic teams supporting each other and I think it just comes to show what support and celebration can do for teams — win,” Soubliere said. “The atmosphere was amazing and I hope to see it at more matches and our team can’t wait to show our support now at other athletic events.”
The volleyball team started the season strong with four straight wins going into their first away tournament of the fall. With two losses on their weekend in Virginia, the Hawks needed to forget the past and strategize for a stronger outcome that they had previously produced. As the season has progressed, the competition has gotten tougher, including two nationally ranked teams, according to Soubliere.
With the energy from the crowd and a little work on their overall communication skills, the Hawks were able to pull out a 3-1 Commonwealth Coast Conference win against Salve, keeping them undefeated in CCC play.
Aside from the swim and dive team, the men’s volleyball team brought some energy to the game, as well. Each time Salve Regina served, the men would count the number of bounces leading up to it.
Overall, both teams were excited to support their fellow Hawks.
“It’s not weird. I just had to wear like 15 pairs of underwear for this,” Ebersold said.
According the Emmert, the team is working with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee towards some other ways to get the whole athletic department more involved and engaged with each other.
“Bottom line if we’re having fun, there’s no limit to how much success we can have,” Emmert said. “Not only as a swim and dive team, or athletics department, but a university as a whole.”