The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Fans take flight


The student section: a passionate place for basketball fans

NCAA Division I basketball is comprised of the country’s top college-age players, spectacular arenas and die-hard fans. Perhaps the most die-hard fans within the sport itself are the students from each respective university and here at Saint Joseph’s University, the 54th Airborne student section, also known as the Booster Club, is composed of those fans.

At each basketball game, and other select sporting events, members of all graduating classes gather to achieve one goal: to give St. Joe’s the extra push to help them achieve victory through cheers and enthusiasm.

“When fans get into the game, the players get into the game with all of the energy created by generating noise,” said senior Matthew Conlin, 54th Airborne’s co-president. 

54th Airborne had its inaugural season during the 2009-10 school year, according to their online blog.  The revamped student section commenced just in time for the completion of renovations to the Alumni Memorial Field House and its undertaking of the name “Hagan Arena.” From that point forward, students have been flocking to St. Joe’s basketball games to experience the atmosphere and excitement that comes with being involved in the student section.

“Being a part of the 54th Airborne feels like you’re fighting with the guys and girls [basketball teams] like an army,” said Will Cronen, ’15, former 54th Airborne president.

Hagan Arena has approximately 1,200 seats blocked off just for the student section, making up over one-fourth of those in attendance for St. Joe’s basketball games when filled, according to the SJU Athletics website. 54th Airborne’s presence is made known within those seats by exclaiming various chants, including its most infamous one, “The Hawk Will Never Die.”

However, the real question is, does the student section actually make an impact on a team’s performance during the game?  To date there are no scientific or statistical studies to show that a student section and its intensity can sway a game one way or another, but some members of the men’s basketball team at St. Joe’s  believe otherwise.

“We always get fired up going off fans,” said third-year sophomore forward Markell Lodge. “It helps us get runs going.”

The contagious atmosphere is even noticed by first-year players, such as freshman standout Charlie Brown.

“The team’s spirits get uplifted when it gets loud,” Brown said. “It gets us hype on the court.”

Phil Martelli, the Hawks’ men’s basketball head coach for the last 22 seasons, has seen the development and the intensity of the student section grow over time.  He believes that the team does not feel alone on the court when there’s a strong student presence.

“Student passion has a positive impact on our performance,” Martelli said.

With the establishment of 54th Airborne, the basketball team can look forward to a strong student presence at games for years to come.

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