Archie wants more Army


Courtesy of Photo Services

Students cheer on the women’s volleyball team during a home game against Quincy University at the PAC last fall.

Banners and T-shirts are just a couple of the ways Archie’s Army tries to make itself known to students on campus.

“We really had to look at how we need to get students to the games,” said Alex Hoffmann, the Student Government Association’s administrative vice president for Archie’s Army said. “I’m not going to lie, it’s a struggle.”

Hoffmann said there are a lot of students interested in participating at games, but there is not a lot of follow through.

Hoffmann revamped the student section this year, including the introduction of the name Archie’s Army as opposed to the previously-titled Red Zone.

“At the beginning of the year, I was ambitious with my expectations and that’s part of starting something. You have to be ambitious,” he said. “Then you get that reality of what’s actually happening and you work with that and that’s where I am now.”

During volleyball season this year, Hoffmann said the section had a strong relationship with  head coach Leah Mercer and a lot of fans attended games.

Mercer said  support for home matches made an impact on the games.

“(Archie’s Army) singlehandedly won our first two home matches,” Mercer  said with a laugh.

She  said her players loved having students in the crowd and it made them feel “important and special.”

Hoffmann said he thinks an active student section would have impacted the men’s basketball game against Quincy University, the same way Mercer said it impacted volleyball.

USI held a lead until the last 50 seconds of that game and Hoffmann said no one was standing or engaged.

“We would have won that game on Thursday if our crowd was involved in the game,” he said. “Hands down.”

Two weeks ago, the organization released new banners to be displayed in the Physical Activities Center during games this basketball season. It is the first time a logo for the group was seen by the public.

“The saying: ‘If you build it they will come’ seems to not work in this situation, because I’ve built it,” Hoffmann said. “I’ve gone far beyond what I think is necessary and I’m inviting people on a personal basis, and I’m inviting groups.”

Hoffmann said when it comes down to it, students come to athletic events, but they don’t participate.

Mercer said friends of hers who have attended games can see the impact an engaged crowd has on the team.

“Three-hundred  people sitting on their hands, they aren’t doing much for you,” Mercer said.

Hoffmann said there is a lot of potential from the student body and more for people to look forward to from Archie’s Army.

“I’m hoping we can get more people to engage, not just with us, it’s not about us, it’s not about Archies Army at all,” he  said. “It’s about the university. It’s about supporting USI and USI athletics.”