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AD Mark Hollis, Baseball Coach Jake Boss and the Red Cedar Rowdies Make MSU Soccer's NCAA Dance Even Better!

Even the most magical stories have an ending. Today the magical run of Michigan State men’s soccer team came to an end at the hands of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 3-0 in second round action of the NCAA tournament. Playing their fifth game in ten days, the Spartans showed the same fight they have all season, but today was not their day. The final score may not be a great indicator but Coach Damon Rensing and his team played with pride, class, and substance that would make every member of Spartan Nation proud.
Notre Dame was the heavy favorite entering today’s match, but early on the Spartans hung tough. Things started to change as the first half progressed and the Spartans started to display some signs of fatigue from playing so many games in such a short span. In the 33rd minute the Irish took advantage of a defensive lapse by the Spartans and opened up a 1-0 lead. Heading into halftime facing a 1-0 deficit would have been manageable for the Spartans, but in the 44th minute the Irish managed to extend the lead to 2-0 off a corner kick.

In the second half the Spartans continued to fight pushing numbers up trying to get back into the game. Unfortunately this did not lead to success and resulted in more attacking room for the Irish who broke the game open in the 88th minute with a blast into the back of the Spartans net. The end result of 3-0 may not look great, but the Spartans never gave up even after two men were sent off with red cards and they ended up playing a man down. Without a doubt the past few weeks Damon Rensing, his team, and staff have gave their all for the university and Spartan Nation should not only be proud but also thank them for their efforts.

The Spartans may have been playing the game in South Bend, but there was a strong Spartan presence thanks to athletic director Mark Hollis. Hollis supplied a bus for students and fans to travel to the game. Not only did Hollis pay the bill for the bus, he also made sure the students and fans that traveled to the game did not have to pay for tickets and that they had a meal waiting for them after the game. I almost forgot to mention the police escort the bus received on its way to the stadium. There have been many moments where I have been proud of the athletic leadership at Michigan State but the class and leadership demonstrated by Mark Hollis today is by far my number one moment.
The main focus of the bus trip was to provide a means of transportation for the soccer team’s student cheering section called the “Red Cedar Rowdies.” We have all heard the complaints the past few years about the Izzone and the student section at the football games but I will tell you the “Red Cedar Rowdies” are hands down the best student cheering section on campus and the comparison is not even close. The group may not be large but it brings creativity, noise, and passion not only for the men’s soccer team but for Michigan State University as well. They are the perfect example of what a student section should be.

The group was started in 2011 by Michigan State Student, Luke Ferris. The first season started out with a small group of students and during its second year Ferris stated, “ The support has been night and day, the publicity of the group has been greater, more people have been involved and a core group of fans have shown up to the games.” When asked about the reason he helped start the group, Ferris replied, “I am a huge soccer fan, attracted to the cultural of soccer fans, they have a different way of supporting their team. When I came to Michigan State I checked into seeing if they had anything for the soccer team and they didn’t. I was passionate about building a group that could support the soccer team.”

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One of the most energetic and animated member of the rowdies is Sophomore Gregory Jackson. When presented with the question about the differences between the Izzone and the Rowdies Jackson felt “With the Rowdies its less people, it’s a closer atmosphere, it gives you a better opportunity to heckle and such.” He added that the goal of the group is to “get the numbers of the group into the 80’s and 90’s. It shouldn’t t be that hard because we do go to one of the biggest schools in the nation and I guarantee there are a lot of soccer fans out there. It’s a challenge to us.”

When asked about the impact of the actions that Hollis had on the group Jackson noted, “It sent the message that Hollis being the A.D. is close to the little guy and students. It is such a big honor to travel with him with everything to paid for; we have always wanted to do this. It sends a message that he is thanking us for our support and encouraging what we do, it makes us feel good that he appreciates what we do, it’s a big thing.”

Adding on to the subject about the impact of Hollis actions Ferris stated, “To see that from our athletic director, to come to one game, see our passion, and provide us with something so great such as a trip to Notre Dame, is amazing. To have that support got us so excited and I think everyone in the group was thrilled to have our athletic director provide us with this.”

The result on the pitch may have not been a win for MSU but thanks to Hollis and the “Red Cedar Rowdies” the day was a victory for MSU. Overall the day reflected what is so great about Michigan State University. We have with no doubt the greatest athletic director in the nation. He sets the example for Spartan fans by leading through words and actions. Not only do we have a great athletic director, but our students are a great group of kids. The “Rowdies” exemplify how a student section should represent a university through their obvious love for Michigan State University. At the end of the day maybe some things in Spartan athletics did not go as planned, but everything is just fine in Spartan Nation.