Op. Ed: #UnitedInBlue

Andrew Tuminelli
UML Waldo

The past few years as a UMass Lowell fan have been absolutely amazing. I along with hundreds of others have been able to watch the best teams in UMass Lowell hockey history. I have seen them win the Hockey East regular season title, win the Hockey East Tournament two years in a row, and have even gotten the opportunity to see them play in the coveted Frozen Four tournament and chase a national title. Many people take moments for these for granted, a lot will not get to witness moments like this again. The River Hawks of the past few years are on the break of a dynasty, chasing history. One thing that this group of River Hawks have done that will be definitely be permanent is change the way there fan base is forever.

It was my freshmen year and I remember being all excited to go to my first collegiate hockey game. The school had hyped it up so much and I remember come game day everyone was talking about going to the game. I vaguely remember the game but I believe it resulted in a loss which eventually started a very poor season for the River Hawks that year.

The next season the only game that was someone near capacity was the home opener and after that it was not the same. That season similar to the previous one consisted of crowds at half capacity during the regular season and seemed as there were crickets in the stands at times. What those who did go to the games realized were that the Riverhawks were incredibly talented this year. This marked the beginning of the Norm Bazin era, and this year the Riverhawks made a playoff run which sparked a lot of attention in the hockey club, and the fans took notice. The stands gradually became more full as the season came to a close and this was also the year I decided to become more involved and began dressing up as Waldo for the games. The forthcoming seasons created some of the most exciting moments for the players and especially the fans.

After the late succes of the 2011 season I think we all senses, players and fans, that something big was going to happen soon. The team had restored hope in the fan base and I wanted to do something big with my new role in helping lead the UML faithful. I collaborated with one of my good friends Dan Grealish and suggested that we try to incorporate the roller coaster chant into the routine. I went to Woburn High and we used to do this chant and there are multiple youtube videos of other high schools and colleges doing it and I thought that it was just what we needed. At first it was a rocky start but eventually it caught on and the entire fan section was doing it by the end of the season! This season the fans came together more than ever before and the team took notice and with the help of their renewed fan spirit they went on to win the hockey east regular season title, the hockey east tournament title, made an appearance in the national tournament, and reached the prestigious Frozen Four.

The roller coaster chant gained even more popular the next year along with the hockey team. The Tsongas center was constantly having capacity of over 4,000 fans a game and the hockey team resumed their winning ways of last season and became back to back champions of the Hockey East Tournament for the first time in school history. More people started coming to the games, which meant a larger fan base, more people getting involved, and an even louder Tsongas arena. That year the roller coaster became one of the more looked forward to parts of the hockey game and the university took notice putting prompts on the jumbotron and adding sound effects over the arena speakers. Its definitely one of my favorite chants not just because I helped start this new tradition but because it doesn’t work without everyone participating. This chant calls for the entire student fan section to come together and thats what makes it more than a chant, it is one of the rare moments when you see an entire student body come together, and thats something special.

In the recent years the school has made shirts to give out at the home opener which have had different sayings on the back of them. They have ranged from “Lets Get Rowdy”, “Blue Fan Group”, “#CodeBlue”, and there have been others. This year at the home opener vs Boston College our shirts will read United In Blue, and the Riverhawks will have their strongest fan base they have arguably ever had in history as they look the complete their dynasty run and 3peat. Like the Seattle Seahawks have the 12th man, this year The Umass Lowell Riverhawks will have the 7th man as we look to be known as the best fans in the league. No team will look forward to playing at Umass Lowell ever again.

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