It’s game day. After classes, homework and rigorous assignments, students at the University of South Carolina pack into Williams-Brice Stadium to cheer on the Gamecocks.
The sound of "Sandstorm" hits thousands of eardrums, the roar of fans rattles the stadium's infrastructure, but the South Carolina student section is missing something: an identity.
After realizing this, third-year sport and entertainment management student Noah Diveley and other South Carolina students came up with the idea of “The Cockpit.”
“I needed something for students to identify with,” Diveley said. “And that seemed to resonate not just with students but other fans.”
Diveley went to faculty adviser Todd Koesters to start the student-run organization.
“One of my students came to me and mentioned that he was hoping to start an organization on campus," Koesters said. "He was basically dissatisfied with the state of the current student sections at games, that they weren’t crazy enough I guess … he was seeking to make sure that the student section at all Gamecock games had an impact on creating a home-field advantage.”
After Diveley and a couple of student ticketing accounts conducted a poll on Twitter, “The Cockpit” came out as the favorite among the rest.
“It's something that not only students are passionate about, but fans,” Diveley said. “And at the end of the day, it has to be symbiotic relationship. The students have to help the fans, the fans have to help the students.”
Diveley also points out the historical significance of “The Cockpit.” He said it was an unofficial nickname for Williams-Brice Stadium and how that led him to name the student section “The Cockpit.”
“Whenever 2010, 2013, whenever it was just the hardest place to play in the country, 'The Cockpit' really embodied what it was like to play in Williams-Brice Stadium and that’s the kind of environment we’re trying to bring to every sport so I feel like it really fits," Diveley said. "I think it’s perfect, it’s historical, it fits the vibe.”
After looking at other university’s student sections such as the University of Arizona’s “ZonaZoo” and the University of Florida’s “Rowdy Reptiles,” Diveley noticed an opportunity for the university both on and off the field.
“There’s a huge opportunity for growth and marketing that’s just student-based. They have student-run organizations," Diveley said. "They get the students involved and it actually makes a difference in the game, it makes a difference for fans wanting to go to the game. So it helps ticket sales, it helps engagement, it helps marketing.”
Diveley said that he hopes that other sports such as tennis and softball can have the same environment as Williams-Brice Stadium does on Saturdays in the Fall.
His future plans for “The Cockpit” include new ideas including an endowed scholarship for the student who receives the most loyalty points through Gamecock Rewards and a traveling student section.
While some may say that a traveling student section would be too costly, Diveley said that he doesn't think so. He wants to make it affordable for all students who want to go.
"Whatever the demand is, I want to be able to supply that demand," Diveley said.
Now with “The Cockpit” set in place, Diveley looks forward to a bright future for the growing organization.
“I’m really proud with how far it’s come in the short amount of time and still every day we’re working to get more people involved,” Dively said. “It’s not even about just numbers on the Twitter account, it’s about trying to see that engagement and it’s working well right now and I'm looking forward to see how it continues to grow through the semester.”