Editorial: CWRU’s sports success should not be overlooked

Editorial Board

When the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University were separate universities, not only were they rival institutions but they were also heated sports rivals. Between 1891 and 1969 the Case and Reserve teams went head-to-head in an annual Thanksgiving football game which not only captured campus life for both universities but also drew crowds of spectators from the Cleveland community as a whole. The games were so popular that they often filled the 70,000-seat Cleveland Stadium, and even eventually led to the Ministerial Association of Cleveland pleading to move the timing of the game because it was interfering with church attendance on Thanksgiving. The two schools refused, however, as the games were too profitable and much of student life at Case and Reserve revolved around the game.

With the federation of the university, the fervent football rivalry also ended and Case Western Reserve University students’ fascination with their collegiate sports seemingly evaporated. The student populace of CWRU, with our primarily academic and nerdy outlook, scarcely attends games at Nobby’s Ballpark or DiSanto Field. Other than a Homecoming football game at the beginning of the year, CWRU students barely even know when games are happening.

That’s a shame, especially because so many CWRU sports teams are currently doing the best they ever have. 

We are a NCAA DIII university, competing against other primarily academic schools like the University of Chicago, New York University and Carnegie Mellon University, so it’s very unlikely that we’ll ever be a sports-crazed campus on par with DI schools. That being said, we should still support our student athletes and their efforts in fighting for CWRU across the nation, and they’re doing so tremendously.

For the second year in a row, our men’s basketball team made it to the NCAA tournament after getting out of University Athletic Association (UAA) conference play. In fact, this year, for the first time ever, they were crowned champions of the UAA. The women’s soccer team also were UAA champions this year for the first time and made it all the way to the NCAA championship game after making it to the round of 16 last year. The men’s tennis team are back-to-back ITA Indoor National Champions this year and competed in the NCAA championship match last year for the second year in a row. Whether they will repeat that performance remains to be seen but so far they are starting strong out of the gate as they had a 15-game win streak earlier this season and are currently on another 4-game win streak. The women’s tennis team also competed in the NCAA tournament last year for the first time ever and currently have an 11-3 record. The softball team is also having a historic season after starting with a 14-game win streak, leading to a current 15-2 record. Across the board, the Spartans have been firing at all cylinders. They deserve recognition.

And it isn’t just our proper varsity sports that are doing well, but also our club sports. Club men’s volleyball will soon be going to compete in their national tournament in April after becoming national champions last year. The CWRU rowing team has been competing at regional and national regattas all year and soon will be competing in the Mid-America Collegiate Rowing Association Championship regatta. The CWRU rugby team also competes on a regional and national level. Last year, the club ice hockey team were playoff champions, and the club badminton and fencing teams both placed first place in their competitions. 

The efforts our student athletes make day in and day out is worthy of acknowledgement and support as such, but going to games and following our teams can also improve our own college experiences. It is an understatement to say that CWRU currently lacks school spirit. Without consistent widespread traditions, events and opportunities to rally together, we often don’t feel part of a cohesive community. However, by paying more attention to the efforts of our sports teams and creating a greater sports culture, we can have something that binds us all together and have pride in.

So start reading our Sports section. Start following our Spartan win streaks. Most importantly, start going to games. Both DiSanto Field and Nobby’s Ballpark are right next to the North Residential Village, and Horsburgh Gymnasium and the Veale Natatorium are right next to the South Residential Village, so you have no excuse. Scores and schedules are consistently posted both within The Observer’s print editions and at athletics.case.edu. We may never be the most sports-obsessed campus, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start taking pride in the CWRU name and our Spartans.