Having the opportunity to play at home in front of loyal fans and in a familiar environment is a widely regarded advantage in sports, but how advantageous is it, really?
For University of South Carolina athletic teams, playing in Columbia in front of die-hard Gamecock fans is one of the biggest edges the university has in the recruiting game. The senior class of athletes has accomplished many feats over the past four years on the courts, fields and pitches that populate South Carolina’s campus, and they have the records to prove it.
Gamecock football has a record of 18-10 over the past four seasons at home in
Williams-Brice Stadium and Saturdays in South Carolina are defined by the roar of Sandstorm and chants of "U-S-C" filling the air. Williams-Brice holds 80,250 fans at capacity, and South Carolina fans make sure to show their support for the football team with garnet, white and black game day outfits as far as the eye can see, especially in the student section located along the north end zone.
Second-year retail management student Andrew Murphy attended a home game against Missouri in 2018 that was delayed multiple times due to rain and lighting, but which resulted in a 2-point win for South Carolina.
“A lot of fans left," Murphy said. "There weren’t that many people left, but the people that were there were so loud and passionate about the game, and throughout my time at South Carolina, it is, without a doubt, my favorite game."
Volleyball is another sport that has enjoyed success at its home court, the Carolina Volleyball Center. The team has finished with double digit wins three of the past four seasons, and the team has an overall record of 37-19 over that time. Volleyball is one of a few sports at South Carolina that has a dedicated band for home games, and its impact, with the fans who pack the stands, undoubtedly give the team extra motivation.
Two more teams that have posted impressive home records over the past four years are baseball and softball.
South Carolina baseball is 75-41 overall and never fails to draw large crowds to Founders Park. Baseball’s best home record came three years ago, when it finished 24-10 at home.
The Carolina Softball Stadium has seen the softball team top 20 wins each of the last three years, and the team was on track to make it four in a row, starting 14-1 at home before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus. Gamecock softball has a record of 82-20 at home over the last four seasons combined.
Women’s soccer is another South Carolina sports team that shows out for the home fans who pack Eugene E. Stone III Stadium every fall. The team owns an impressive 44-3-3 record at home over the past four seasons, and the women have also won 11 NCAA tournament games at home during that time. The team lost only one game in three of the past four seasons at home, and the remaining year it did not lose a single home game.
South Carolina men’s basketball is another team that has reached double digit wins in each of the past four seasons at home. Their home record in that time span is 48-19, and fans continue to pack Colonial Life Arena to watch the men’s team perform at a high level.
Gamecock women’s basketball has one of the best records of any South Carolina sports team over the past four years, going 55-8. The women have an extremely loyal fan base and have ranked No. 1 in the country in home game attendance each of the past six seasons. Colonial Life Arena erupts when the women’s basketball team takes the court, and the volume only increases until the final buzzer sounds.
First-year student Bryson Carroll attended the Gamecocks' home victory over then-No. 5 UConn during the 2019-2020 season.
“It was sold out, if I remember right, so it was super loud, and everybody was super into the game," Carroll said. "I had a ton of fun; we kept the same energy up for pretty much the whole game.”
It is obvious that athletics at the University of South Carolina greatly benefit from playing games at home in front of the loyal Gamecock fan base. Football, volleyball, baseball, softball, women’s soccer and men’s and women’s basketball have a combined home record of 349-120-3 over the last four seasons. That is a home win percentage of .74 for the top sports at an SEC university.
“Having more people there and having them loud makes [the athletes] play better,” Murphy said. “It gives them a reason to play harder.”
The class of 2020 athletes has left a lasting mark on the University of South Carolina athletic program that Gamecock fans will not soon forget.