The Superfan Student Initiative Program has brought excitement back to attendants at UMaine athletic events this season.
The Superfan program has sponsored game promotions such as Beach Night Money Madness men’s basketball game against the University of Vermont to the basketball doubleheader this past weekend against University of Albany. Prizes, such as a 32-inch high-definition TV, a new iPad and 20 sweatshirts from the Bear Necessities store, have been given away.
John Diamond, Athletic Marking Assistant, says the 3-year-old program has gone through several changes.
“It’s slightly different this year than it has been in the past. The program itself is three years old, but it is significantly different this year,” Diamond said. “Instead of having certain set prize levels where, for example, you attend 5 games you receive a draw string bag, 10 games a t-shirt, this year we focused on larger prizes that are given to randomly selected fans. We still have a grand prize this year — the $5,000 scholarship.”
This year, the program gave out larger prizes to be won by students who have attended a certain number of games and are automatically entered into a drawing.
“The way the program works — once you attend 15 games, every game you attend from there on, you are re-entered into the grand prize drawing. The more games you attend, the better chance you have at winning the prize,” Diamond said. “The ultimate goal is to reward students who support UMaine athletics and encourage students who might not be the biggest sports fans to get involved in athletics and hopefully get something out of it as well.”
There are even some events fans in attendance can win, even if they have only attended one game.
“We also have Superfan Super Days throughout the year, where we give away a bunch of prizes — mostly sweatshirts from Bear Necessities,” Diamond said.
Russ Bodwell, a member of the Class of 1944, provides funds for the majority of the Superfan program. Bodwell and former University of Maine president Robert Kennedy founded the program to boost student attendance at athletic events.
“We were discussing ways how to motivate students to go to athletic contests, and that’s how we came up with the Superfan idea,” Bodwell said. “When I was here in college, I think over 90 percent of the students used to go to the games. Today, I think they’re lucky if they get 800 out to a game.”
The Superfan is not just limited to the larger events such as ice hockey and football. Each time a student attends an atheletic event, their MaineCard is swiped. Each event will count in their personal standings.
The program started at the beginning of the year, and the athletic department hopes the student attendance will increase to the levels Bodwell once saw at UMaine.
“For many years, I was on the Development Council at the University of Maine. I was on it for over 20 years, and the chairman for one year,” Bodwell said. “I knew student attendance was down. I have come up for homecoming every year since my class graduated 69 years ago, and I only missed two homecomings.
“I could see that students weren’t coming out like they used to,” he continued. “When we played Bowdoin at homecoming, we’d have 12,000 fans at the game. Of course Bowdoin had a big contingent, but UMaine not only had a large student body but a lot of alumni.”
The drawing for the grand prize $5,000 scholarship will be held during the UMaine men’s ice hockey against Boston University at Alfond Arena, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m.