Football Has Some of the Biggest Crowds in the Nation
It has become a Saturday tradition: The best football scene in Southwest Virginia can be found at Emory & Henry College. Die-hard football fans arrive early to set up their grills and tents in preparationfor another E&H victory.
The Wasps have a long history of having a large fan base, and this dedication is reflected in a recent report by the NCAA that ranks Emory & Henry sixth in the nation for home football attendance with an average of 5,391 fans at each home game.
The Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) also had one other team in the top ten, as the Wasps rival Hampden-Sydney finished second on the list. Overall, the ODAC leads Division III attendance, averaging 3,341 fans per game and returning to the days when it dominated in total fan attendance. The ODAC was the attendance champion in 14 of 16 years from 1989 to 2004. The Minnesota Intercollegiate Conference had won the last five years before finishing second in 2010 with 2,914 fans per game.
“Ever since I’ve been here the support from the fans, alumni, students and community has been phenomenal and, I can’t wait to see what the support will be like when we start winning championships,” said Wasps Head Football Coach Don Montgomery. “On a Saturday in the fall there isn’t a more exciting place to be then Emory, Virginia. I am very thankful to be the head football coach here at Emory & Henry, where tailgating and unique fan support provides our motivation and excitement to compete week in and week out.”
In her first full year at Emory, E&H Athletic Director Myra Sims says several people warned her about the incredible atmosphere of a game day in Emory, but she couldn’t grasp the magnitude of it until she witnessed it in person.
“I will never forget my first home game this past fall, which happened to be the UVA-Wise game,” said Athletic Director Myra Sims. “I got on campus at about 8:30 that morning expecting to beat the crowd, but the tailgate area was already packed with tents, grills and people everywhere, and most of the parking areas were already full!”
Overall, home attendance at Divisions III games for 2010 increased by 189,059. According the NCAA, a record 49,670,895 fans attended games at all 639 NCAA schools this past year, including home games, neutral-site games and postseason contests, breaking the previous high set in 2008. This comes after the 2009 season saw a slight dip in attendance after three straight record-breaking years.
The Wasps finished the season 1-5 in the ODAC and 5-5 overall, but the 2010 season was a tale of two streaks. The Wasps, led by two-time All-American Caleb Jennings, started the season with four straight victories, giving many of the Wasp faithful hope that this would be the year that E&H re-captured its hold on the ODAC’s top spot. The Wasps first loss of the season would come at Fullerton Field against Randolph-Macon during homecoming weekend. The Wasps would then go on to lose their next four games as Jennings battled a severe ankle sprain. Emory & Henry closed out the season with a home victory against ODAC foe Guilford.
2010 NCAA DIVISION III FOOTBALL ATTENDANCE TEAM LEADERS
|1.||St. John's (MN)||5||43,254||8,651|
|6.||Emory & Henry||5||26,956||5,391|
|25.||St. Thomas (MN)||8||26,005||3,251|