Thursday, March 6, 2014

FGCU's Dirty Birds All About Defending the Nest

Florida Gulf Coast men’s basketball is not the only team to be reckoned with when you come to play in Dunk City.

Now some 1,500 members strong, FGCU’s “Dirty Birds” provide the Eagles what senior Chase Fieler calls the “best home court advantage in the A-Sun.”

“They change some of the dynamics of the game,” says Fieler. “They have backed us all year and in my opinion we definitely have the best home court advantage.

“I don’t think that the conference has ever seen a home court advantage like we have right now, particularly with the amount of students turning out. And it is not just for the bigger games, we had a sold out crowd against Ave Maria at the beginning of the year. They have been unbelievable.”

The Dirty Birds began as a student spirit group that was part of the school’s office of student involvement. However four years ago the athletic department gave the group a home and that is when they really began to take flight.

Enticements for membership, which is $10 during the summer and $20 once school begins, include early admission to games for the best seats, gear such as t-shirts, sunglasses and stickers, and discounts at local sponsors. “We push the value of the Dirty Birds because if you went to the bookstore and bought a shirt, you would pay the price of membership or more,” says Montecalvo.

The Dirty Birds certainly do not sit on their laurels, as during the summer the Dirty Birds occupy a place on the orientation agenda as well, during which they conduct “Dunk City 101,” indoctrinating future students on FGCU athletics with videos, highlights from FGCU’s NCAA run last season, and more. Then in the fall, they host Revolution, another opportunity to “recruit” memberships and show up in force of each of FGCU’s men’s and women’s home events.

“After our run last year it really pulled the community into our school.,” said Fieler. “I absolutely believe that we have become Southwest Florida’s home school. I am a member of the Dirty Birds. I have always been someone who loved to go to other sports and watch them, and I think that is why I have been recognized for being in them because I am always on the front row, cheer with them and I have a lot of friends now that have met through this and formed a bond.

In a student section designed to hold 1500 students, the Dirty Birds typically take up more than 1100 seats for a home basketball game. For Tuesday night’s game against Stetson, more than 900 Dirty Birds took their place in Alico Arena and cheered, jeered and propelled the Eagles on the semifinals of the 2014 A-Sun Men’s Basketball Championship.

So how do you get students of a school located five minutes from the beach to stay on campus for basketball games during spring break?

“If you walk around campus right now, it is dead, and frankly we were a little concerned about that,” says Gabby Monecalvo of the Dirty Birds. “But many have jobs in the area and so they can’t leave, and others just stay here for spring break because the beach is just five minutes away.”

The Dirty Birds also conducted their first Staycation Campaign, encouraging those students who were remaining in town to attend the games while providing other incentive for turning out to maintain Dunk City’s home court advantage.

“Everywhere we go in conference there is no comparison to the Dirty Birds. I know when we were at North Florida they had one of their best crowds of the year and it wasn’t even close to the Dirty Birds,” Fieler adds.

“They are diligent and they do their homework. When other teams come in they know stuff about them and the coach, and they are constantly on them. It is hard to concentrate on the game when someone is on you all of the time. They do a good job and they are very persistent. No matter the score, they are staying until the end of the game and give the other team a hard time. It makes it tough to play.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Atlantic Sun blog welcomes all comments, critiques and questions. We only delete those comments that are abusive, off-topic, use excessive foul language, or include ad hominem attacks. We pre-moderate comments on our blog posts.