By Ethan Smith, Sports Editor
For many of us here in Savannah, the transition to officially becoming Georgia Southern has been tough in all aspects. Many of us feel like we are left out of most events that occur in Statesboro or may not have the luxury of having a car to travel one hour to Statesboro; we do have transportation to most sports events. However, all of us don’t believe this is an issue that should be fixed. The Inkwell, took the liberty of sending me, Ethan Smith, to Statesboro on the day of a basketball game to showcase what a day at one of Statesboro’s games might look like in the eyes of an Armstrong campus student.
With the Eagles playing top-seeded Louisiana in a major basketball game Saturday, I decided to the make the trip to Statesboro to see what GSU had to offer. With the game starting around 5:00 in the afternoon, I decided to leave around 3:30 so that when I arrived I could soak-in the overall atmosphere of the campus on a gameday. Driving from Savannah to Statesboro is very eventful. The back roads provided amazing scenery ranging from trees to farmland to lakes. With it being the middle of the afternoon as well, much of the scene was at dusk, which gave off an even better feel. Going by yourself can be somewhat difficult with no one in the car to talk to, but just relaxing while driving and embracing the environment around you is a feeling that people rarely get.
Once I arrived in the actual city of Statesboro, I could tell exactly where I was. An Eagles logo on the main water tower was my first sight. Also, almost every car around me had some type of GSU sticker, flag, something to indicate either their fandom or family heritage. It was honestly like I was a sore thumb in the road because I didn’t have anything navy blue on my car.
Arriving on GSU’s campus almost felt like home. The campus closely resembles the Armstrong campus with its variety of trees, fountains, plants etc. Arriving at Hanner Fieldhouse, for those who don’t know Hanner Fieldhouse hosts volleyball and basketball games and is named after “Shep” Hanner, the athletics director of GSU from 1935 to 1959. Just another factoid to learn about our new school. Hanner Fieldhouse is a gorgeous facility, especially at night when most games conclude, and the building is lit-up with blue lights. Even the inside of the facility is amazing with how it is structured.
The actual game began, and the atmosphere was almost captivating. The student section was rowdy from beginning to end, and they are also a very welcoming student body. I had numerous people see my Armstrong lanyard and say, “Welcome to Southern man.” So many people told me that that I couldn’t reasonably quote all of them. Those four words really convinced me to embrace Georgia Southern’s culture.
We all cheered together, booed together, sang the fight song together, got into conversations, it was amazing. GSU eventually lost, but it did not kill the mood by any standards. Even as I exited, many of the students were still talking about the game and how they were all showing up to the next one. It honestly took my breath away at how welcoming and in touch the students were with their school, and I feel that as Savannah students, we should feel the same way.
What you should all take from this is don’t listen to the cliches about GSU’s student body not being welcoming. They are actually a great group of people who welcome everyone. The Statesboro campus is also very beautiful, Hanner Fieldhouse is an amazing facility, and the overall atmosphere of the campus grabs you and pulls you in. As we enter a new era in our college careers, don’t let the name change and the distance between our campuses make you feel like you don’t belong. We are all Eagles, whether we like it or not, but we should embrace it. The culture of GSU is very unique, and it’s worth getting into. Take the trip down to Statesboro and find out for yourself. Here at the Inkwell staff, we promise GSU won’t disappoint.