‘Hoo Crew helps create 'rockin' environment for basketball games
Official student fan section hopes to continue support of team throughout March Madness
With national recognition from coaches and the media and boasting awards such as the 2014 Naismith Student Section of the Year, basketball games at John Paul Jones Arena would be incomplete without one key component — the ‘Hoo Crew.
Founded in the fall of 2005, the ‘Hoo Crew is the official student fan group for the University. The goal of the group is to “engage all students at Virginia athletic events,” said Jacob Gore, ‘Hoo Crew Committee vice president and a fourth-year Commerce student.
“We also try to promote all the sports at U.Va. equally and create the most exciting environments at each U.Va. sporting event, so we can give each team the best home field or home court advantage possible,” Gore said.
Although every University student is automatically a member of the ‘Hoo Crew, the ‘Hoo Crew Committee works closely with both students and the athletic department to create the best experience possible for students and student athletes during sporting events.
“I work with the president, Dustin Jones, on helping organize everything the committee initiates,” Gore said. “In addition, it’s helping oversee our social media posts and ordering the streamers and creating a lot of the posters and big heads in the student sections — especially for basketball — and just trying to get the student fan environment just as rowdy and as loud as possible at all of the games.”
The ‘Hoo Crew Committee also works with athletics to create the ‘Hoo Crew t-shirts and plan the home games designated as Sabre Rewards events.
“We work on organizing Sabre Rewards events with the athletics department, which really helps ensure we get as many student fans out to support the student athletes as possible,” Gore said.
Because of the competitiveness of the Atlantic Coast Conference, creating an optimal home environment through a large student presence and a loud atmosphere — particularly for basketball games — is especially important.
Deanna Madagan, the ‘Hoo Crew co-social chair and a fourth-year Curry student, said this type of environment makes it harder for other teams to play at JPJ.
“‘Hoo Crew definitely creates a Sixth Man atmosphere in Tony Bennett's House,” Madagan said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “Our chants, loud volume and signs definitely create a distraction for opposing teams. I think the players and Tony Bennett like it when JPJ is rockin', and I don't think other teams enjoy playing in the atmosphere we create.”
The ‘Hoo Crew has helped to create an environment in JPJ that has not gone unnoticed by players, coaches and sports analysts alike — both at the University and nationwide.
“We got some good rolls, and the crowd was incredible,” Men’s Basketball Coach Tony Bennett said in a press conference following the Feb. 27 game against UNC. “That was one of the better ones we’ve had.”
First-year basketball player Kyle Guy has said the engagement of the crowd at JPJ is one of his favorite parts of the game.
“It was surreal when the crowd erupted after we hit a shot or got a stop,” Guy said in a postgame press conference Nov. 20. “That is my favorite part, when the shot clock is going down on defense and you can feel the energy from all of the fans. I have definitely noticed that and it was amazing to be a part of it.”
Gore said members of the ‘Hoo Crew Committee attended the ACC Tournament and hope to be able to attend the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, especially since the team will be playing its first tournament game in Orlando, Fla.
“I think people are definitely going to try to go to those games if they can,” Gore said. “We always love supporting the ‘Hoos and supporting the basketball team at this time of year, and every other U.Va. team, as much as possible. If we can go, we will be there.”