Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Oshkosh fans travel for championship

Going out to Salem, Virginia was not the first time Santana Herbst traveled a long distance during the 2016 football season to watch her boyfriend play. Rather, the UW Oshkosh sophomore dedicated many weekends this past fall to cheer on her favorite team.

“I went to all of the Titans’ games this year except maybe two,” Herbst said. “How could I miss the national championship game? I traveled to Marion, Ill., a 16 hour round-trip, and sat in 90-degree weather. I traveled to Hancock, Mich., a 10 hour round-trip and sat in pouring rain. I went to every other conference game, and sat through sunny weather and also the freezing cold, especially the semi-final game at home.”

On Friday, Dec. 16, 3,476 fans from UWO and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor of Texas could be found at Salem Stadium cheering as the two teams battled it out in the NCAA D-III Championship.

UWO student Elyssa Hochevar described the game as one of the most memorable ones she has ever been to and said she thinks it will stick with the players and fans for a lifetime.

“I thought this football game was no less than incredible,” Hochevar said. “The atmosphere was nothing like I’ve experienced because everyone was so thrilled and excited to have come so far to cheer on the Titans.”

Shortly after the Titans beat John Carroll University on Dec. 10, students were given the opportunity to ride a fan bus to the championship game provided by the University. The cost of the trip was $280 per person, while hotel and ticket costs were not included.

The bus departed from UWO on Thursday at 5 a.m. and returned back to Oshkosh on Saturday.

Both Herbst and Hochevar said they traveled to Virginia in a car with either family or friends.

“It was about a 13 hour car drive straight through, but of course we stopped multiple times for gas, toll, and food and that added on more time,” Herbst said. “I chose to do this mode of transportation because flying cost anywhere from $500-$800 round trip. The fan bus offered by the University was too expensive as well.”

When the game kicked off on Friday at 7:00 p.m., the temperature was 27 degrees in Salem. Hochevar said she made sure to bundle up, but the adrenaline from the game kept her from getting cold.

“Although the weather was a bit chilly, nothing new to us, it didn’t take away from the game because so many times during it we were jumping up and down or standing up because of a big play,” Hochevar said. “We actually warmed up. But, foot and hand warmers did help.”

Fans were clad in black and yellow for the game and brought along signs and flags to show their support for the Titans. UWO director of athletics Daryl Sims said he is extremely impressed by number of people who traveled to Virginia.

“Our fans were phenomenal,” Sims said. “They did an outstanding job during the tailgate. They formed a tunnel for the team when it got off the bus, so the players had a chance to walk through the tunnel of all the fans. During the course of the game, they certainly made their presence known. They made it feel like a home game for us because of how loud they were cheering and how many of them were there. And even though we came up short, they never let us feel like we did.”

The Titans ended their season with a record of 13-2 and a trip to their first-ever national championship, making it their most successful year to date.

Herbst said, although fans and players were disappointed in the championship game loss, the team displayed unique character throughout the season that they should be the most proud of.

“The boys showed that football is more than a sport; football helps build relationships,” Herbst said. “The team was a family and you could see that at any game you went to. They were fun to watch, not just because of their talents, but because of the brotherhood you could see on the field.”

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