Students encouraged to ‘Pack the Parks’

By on September 22, 2008

By Brett Jager

Over the past couple of years, the University of Louisville Athletic Department has made a point to promote the non-major sports to U of L students and fans alike. On Sunday, U of L will continue that initiative with a three-pronged plan to “Pack the Parks.”
The “Pack the Parks” event consists of three different sporting events, two of which being simultaneous. The U of L men’s soccer squad will kick things off at 1 p.m. against Big East opponent Notre Dame at Cardinal Park. Also at 1 p.m., the field hockey team will be taking on Iowa at Trager Stadium.
The action will continue at Cardinal Park at 3 p.m. (or after the men’s game concludes) with the women’s soccer team taking on Big East opponent DePaul University. All three teams are nationally ranked and will showcase themselves to students and fans, many of whom have never been to a soccer or field hockey game.
“The ‘Pack the Parks’ is a fabulous marketing idea,” said Karen Ferguson-Dayes, head coach of the women’s soccer team. “It will be a great environment and will appeal to many different people.”
The men’s soccer team hopes to continue their strong play this weekend as they take on the University of Marquette on Friday night and Notre Dame Sunday afternoon.
Sophomore middle forward Simeon Steward said that he always gets excited by the heavy support of fans.
“Even though I have been hurt this year, it still excites me to see a lot of fans in the stands,” Steward said. “It pumps up the team and gives us the motivation to play even harder.”
On the eve of ‘Pack the Parks,’ the field hockey team will play one of their biggest games of the year at home against the University of Connecticut. Head coach Pam Bustin hopes the stands are full for both games.
“Having the stands packed for any home game would be great,” Bustin said. “We are lucky to have such a great marketing group working on this. As people hear the sales pitch I think it will go well.”
Shannon Smyth, women’s soccer player and marketing intern for the athletics department, is very excited about the Pack the Parks event, mentioning that inflatables and facepainting will be on the activities list.
“I think it will be a big hit,” Smyth said. “There will be some great competition and terrific sports entertainment for everyone.”
Prior to this season, the field hockey team benefited from a stadium expansion and a workout/training facility attached to the stadium.
Senior field hockey player Lauren Schaefer has been pleased with the results.
“Fan support is definitely important,” Schaefer said. “Ever since we got the new stadium our fan base has skyrocketed. It is really exciting.”
There are several reasons the athletic department decided to initiate the “Pack the Parks” event.
Also, the athletic department is hoping to break single game attendance records for all three sports. For players like Steward, support like this makes playing for U of L an even greater reward.
“It is always good to have support from the school,” Steward said. “It makes us proud to play for U of L.”
Ferguson-Dayes hopes “Pack the Parks” will have a lasting impression on students and fans.
“This is a great way to promote the sports people may not be interested in, or even know about,” Ferguson-Dayes said. “I think many fans will enjoy this and hopefully they will continue to come out and support our teams.”

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