Ohio State students pack Ohio Stadium to the brim each home game in the fall, but most stand far from the field. They enthusiastically cheer on their favorite team from a distance, but do not have the opportunity to personally interact with the players and coaches.
Student Appreciation Day on Saturday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center was the Ohio State student body’s opportunity to get up-close and personal with the coaches and their favorite players.
Ben Gilbert, fourth-year majoring in international studies took a tour of the facility, but said he enjoyed the proximity more than anything.
“You get to be closer than you normally would,” Gilbert said. “You’re like 10 feet from (OSU coach) Urban (Meyer).”
Students watched a Buckeyes intrasquad scrimmage from a perspective completely unique to them. Rows of students lined up approximately 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and saw the Buckeyes compete with each other.
John Wallace, third-year majoring in interior design, said he enjoyed a tour of the facility and gasped at the presence of the OSU brand. He came alone for his first visit to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, but said he will be back.
“Next time I’ll bring my friends to show them the facilities, because as a student, it’s good to see all of the stuff your school has to offer,” Wallace said.
The Buckeyes engaged in an intense circle drill where the students moved even closer, surrounding the players in a circle as they individually went head-to-head when coaches called them out.
The players went hard at each other, but then Honorable Mention All-Big Ten defensive lineman, senior Jalyn Holmes broke the tension by going one-on-one with a female student. He lifted her up in the air with ease after his teammates jokingly hyped him up like they were preparing for the biggest game of the year.
After the intrasquad scrimmage, facility tours and circle drill, the students could meet the players and take pictures with them.
Kaishin Lin, second-year majoring in sport industry, said that she loves going to the Buckeyes’ games, but feels distant from the team while in The Shoe. She said she loved how close she was able to get to her favorite players and see them without their helmets.
“It’s unique in the sense that a lot of pro sports teams wouldn’t do something like this,” Lin said. “It’s a great way to get the fans out here, and get them to hangout with the players and be more on a personal level.”
One student brought a mini basketball hoop and ball to engage with the players during the meet-and-greet portion of the day. Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones allowed the student to dunk on him for a photo and video opportunity.
Holmes did not display the same generosity as he dunked on the student himself. Redshirt senior defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle held up the mini hoop as the 6-foot-5, 270-pound Holmes annihilated the student on an alley-oop thrown by junior right tackle Isaiah Prince.