A sort-of research question...

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by Stonehouse on Wed Sep 09, 2009 7:03 pm

Well... actually those numbers make sense to me. You have to remember, that championship in 2002 kind of came out of nowhere... we weren't even seeded, right? Or if we were, we were an 8 seed? I think? Eeesh... I'm getting a bit hazy with my memory. So it's no surprise the attendance during that season wasn't as high (even with Christine) as it was in 2005, when we were the consensus favorites.

So we got a nice bump in 2003 (the post-championship season), then the lights came in 2004 (big bump), and then the "magical" 2005 season. It progresses pretty nicely. But you are definitely right to point out the marketing efforts of the school... those shouldn't be overlooked by any means. They have made a big impact.

But the general question of why? It's tougher. As I said, I think the lights helped make it the big "event" on campus for students, much like Friday night football games in high school. Remember, there's not a ton to do on campus... those night games are circled on calanders. As for why students come out in larger support for the women than the men: 1) The women are elite and the men aren't. 2) The women are friendly and more than a few guys on the men's team have been jerks. Much easier to root for them if you actually like them. 3) The student body is something like 60-65% women. I think that does make a difference.

As for the general population, I think the soccer afficianados out there appreciate the legacy of Clive Charles and recognize the quality of soccer. But I think the bulk of the fans are people who have a personal connection somehow... their daughter plays on a youth team, their kids went to UP camps, they know someone who is a season ticket holder, etc. I think a lot of people went for their kids and then themselves became hooked.

But really... it's a tough question to answer. There are just so many factors... but I still feel like without that incredible 2005 team, we wouldn't be where we're at now. They really made the break through.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by El Geez on Wed Sep 09, 2009 7:10 pm

well, it didn't come out of nowhere in 2002. we were a semifinal team the year before, and we were ranked higher than our seed in 2002. And we beat Notre Dame and we tied and almost beat UNC that year (damn post). Nobody was supposing we weren't one of the best by tournament time.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by jc on Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:33 pm

It might be helpful to break the crowd down into its various elements. Assume a sold-out game. My best guess (others can do better) is that the breakdown is about 20 percent students, 25 percent youth soccer players and their parents and coaches, 30 percent die-hard fans (either alums or just people from the community) like those on this web site, 20 percent drawn in by publicity or curiosity because of the particular game, and maybe 5 percent (at most, usually) fans of the opponent.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by pms275 on Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:36 pm

As an alum, I can tell you that for a lot of us who came into the school not very interested in soccer, we changed our minds because of our time spent on The Bluff.

At the time I was on campus, the attendance numbers were nothing like what they are now, and the men were the bigger draw, having had success in the College Cup in 1988. The women's program started coming along when Tiffeny Milbrett agreed to come to UP. There was quite a buzz on campus when that happened, as she had had a stellar prep career in Hillsboro. (She was a pretty good point guard in basketball, too, in junior high; I have a yearbook photo somewhere in the house of her directing the offense. LOL But, I digress...)

I'll never forget how remarkable it was to see the new Merlo stadium absolutely packed when Mia Hamm and UNC came to town for a match. (I don't remember the year...'90, '91?) It was stunning because at that time games were played solely during the day, and the women's game was always during breakfast! Very Happy

Anyway, 2005's team had some special buzz going into the season, but I think it surprised everyone just how great the reception from the city was. What really has continued to help is that the women are approachable, the adults and the kids enjoy watching the team, and the players represent the school admirably in the whole educating of the hearts and minds that UP strives for. College athletics has in my opinion become a cynical big business. I never get that feeling at UP. As others have said, the fans are part of the community.

As has also been said, it all started with Clive Charles. It was his personality that helped make the program what it is today.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by purple haze on Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:34 pm

Speaking for myself and the guys I attend games with: Like us, many UP women soccer fans are parents with a daughter or two. UP gives us a special place to pursue our love of the game with our daughters. It's a place to build a strong bond between parent and kid and team. I'll back up everything that folks have said about the high quality of the UP players as people and as role models and friends to their young fans. With all the pressures and worries facing girls today, and the need for self-esteem, the girls I know thrive on the attention they get back from the Pilots. I've never seen anything like it from any other team, anywhere. Autographs, souvenirs, having a star player recognize them or chat online with them or even coach them -- all these factors build an emotional bond that goes beyond data or won-loss record. It's not just a beautiful game, it's a beautiful place to be the dad of a daughter. Once my youngest grows beyond wanting to watch the games with me (assuming it will happen and hoping it won't be soon), I'll need to come up with another excuse for what has become a passionate hobby at our house.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by amg on Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:39 pm

Great stuff everyone; thanks for the insight, and keep it coming as the ideas flow...

It is certainly convincing to see all the examples of how much it means for the players to be so engaged as part of the community (along with the legacy of Clive, the atmosphere at Merlo, and all the other excellent observations). There are also a couple issues that have come up in some of the posts that I'm finding useful to think about, but am still figuring through:

In my mind, the point made about Texas A&M being the other significant place that draws for women's soccer does make for an interesting comparison (especially as they also have big-time American football). Because it does seem that Portland is a good town for women's soccer with its generally progressive ethos and the historical popularity of the game. But College Station Texas? I guess I've never been there--so I can't say for sure. But I've rarely heard any one refer to it as a progressive soccer town. If anyone knows more about why its caught on there, I'd be most curious.

The other thing that has kind of come up in some of the posts is the fact that UP's women's team seems able to appeal to boys/men/male students as a genuine athletic endeavor--not just as a show. It is unquestionably important that the women's players serve as role models for girls, but I would guess the more unusual thing about UP is that boys sign up too. To say nothing of the Villa drum squad and the other hardcore (male) students. I know in the sports world the argument goes that while it is great to have a growing base of women fans, for better or worse the majority of hardcore fans are still men (and it may be that the representation on this discussion board even supports that--though I'm just guessing based on generally ambiguous user names). And it is rare for high level women's teams of any type (basketball, soccer, softball, etc.) to have a large base of serious male fans. So the more I'm thinking about this, the more I'm wondering about that piece of it--and any further thoughts are most appreciated.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by GUPhantom on Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:50 pm

Yes. Simply put...all credit has to go to Clive! A couple of his recruits (MacMillan and Huie come to mind) committed to come to UP site unseen...primarily to play for him. Milbrett and Sinclair had commented that they wouldn't have have even come to UP if not for Clive. He was literally a father figure.

Its all grass roots stuff! The impact of Clive's work at UP and FC Portland...developed a pool of local girls growing up..."wanting and inspired to become Pilots"...examples....Sari, Meierbachtol, Salisbury, Budge..etc! One of my favorite moments was walking into a resturant wearing my Portland Pilots Soccer T-Shirt...and then having a 5 year old walk up to me to proclaim..."I'm gonna play for them"! Very Happy Love that! And I believe her too! Clive instilled an innate drive for excellence in his program and then transposed into the community!

To me this is the secret and key to UP's success! As I see it...infusing local talent has always been the backbone to Clive's teams. He made room for them on the roster... though some weren't as credentialed as teammates recognized nationally. I'm sure he could've composed a team full of national youth team members from all over the country. But...how can you not buy in on watching local talent flourish and contribute to the success of the team? Sprinkle in the blue chips....girls like Rapinoe, Cox and Wuznok...who embraced and practiced team-play wholeheartedly! It makes for unbelievable chemistry, support, loyalty and belief in each other on the pitch! It all translates into outstanding play! They may have a few bad matches... (though very rarely have I seen that personally)...but when you attend a Pilot's match...one thing is always guaranteed....you'll see a hard working team play its heart out!

GO PILOTS!!!

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by DaTruRochin on Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:18 pm

I did a quick perusal of the Aggie website, and yes indeed they do charge for tickets. Here's the season ticket prices: https://www.12thmanfoundation.com/tickets/SC-PRICES.asp
Interestingly, the school does not field a men's soccer team.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by El Geez on Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:42 pm

DaTruRochaldo wrote:I did a quick perusal of the Aggie website, and yes indeed they do charge for tickets. Here's the season ticket prices: https://www.12thmanfoundation.com/tickets/SC-PRICES.asp
Interestingly, the school does not field a men's soccer team.

That's a little misleading. They provide free season tickets in your package if you buy season Football (and I think, basketball) tickets.
So it doesn't mean that's the going rate.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by Stonehouse on Thu Sep 10, 2009 9:34 am

amg wrote:The other thing that has kind of come up in some of the posts is the fact that UP's women's team seems able to appeal to boys/men/male students as a genuine athletic endeavor--not just as a show.

This is a great point. At the risk of sounding like a total jerk... I do tend to not be as interested in women's basketball, women's golf, softball, volleyball, etc. I think soccer and tennis (and various Olympic sports) are the only ones where I can, if I'm honest with myself, say I'm as genuinely interested as men's sports.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by ShipstadPilot11 on Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:00 am

Personally, I love that the girls always applaud the crowd after every game (road games too?). They never forget to "thank" the crowd in this way and I find that endearing and I think it is a sign of a humble team that doesn't take the support for granted.

There was a student who was unable to be on campus last fall for personal reasons. He is a huge soccer fan and he WAS able to make it to the game at Stanford. I found out that some (I don't know how many) of the girls noticed him at the game and said hello and thanked him for coming as they were ushered to the bus after the game (the loss they had just suffered did not deter them from reaching out). In addition, I asked the girls if they would all sign one of their posters for him after I had it mounted on foam board and they were more than happy to. When my friend came back in the spring to see that poster, full of signatures and personal messages, in his room, it meant a lot to him.

This is an incredible program and I agree with everything that has been posted above.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by PilotNut on Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:08 am

ShipstadPilot11 wrote:Personally, I love that the girls always applaud the crowd after every game (road games too?). They never forget to "thank" the crowd in this way and I find that endearing and I think it is a sign of a humble team that doesn't take the support for granted.

There was a student who was unable to be on campus last fall for personal reasons. He is a huge soccer fan and he WAS able to make it to the game at Stanford. I found out that some (I don't know how many) of the girls noticed him at the game and said hello and thanked him for coming as they were ushered to the bus after the game (the loss they had just suffered did not deter them from reaching out). In addition, I asked the girls if they would all sign one of their posters for him after I had it mounted on foam board and they were more than happy to. When my friend came back in the spring to see that poster, full of signatures and personal messages, in his room, it meant a lot to him.

This is an incredible program and I agree with everything that has been posted above.

This is awesome... thank you for sharing! The posts in this thread encapsulate my experience with the team... The team is approachable, they are excellent representatives of UP on and off the field, and of course they kick the snot out of most other teams. Very Happy

We are the U of P!

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by A_Fan on Thu Sep 10, 2009 2:17 pm

One other legacy from Clive that has not been mentioned is the coaching staff. He was able to spot not just on field talent, but people with the ability to carry on the program in a successful manner.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by aleppiek on Thu Sep 10, 2009 2:24 pm

Isn't it interesting how unquantifiable this question seems to be. It seems that the overwhelming response seems to be that of a touchy feely nature. There just seems to be an overwhelming emotional attachment at a community level for this team. I cant help but be reminded of the scene last year against Santa Clara was it? When Rachel with a blown ACL was put on the field in the closing minutes. What a compliment to our program that the coach of our fiercest rival would knowingly nod his head in approval to our coach. It is moments like that that stick with me, and let me know that I am supporting a quality group of people.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by UPSoccerFanatic on Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:09 pm

The last post, referencing Jerry Smith's nod to Garrett, reminds me of something else. I think being part of a conference of small schools with no football, but that still fields one of the top Division I women's soccer programs, plays a part. I think a lot of we fans like that.

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