Sporting events allow for family bonding on campus

By Peter Bailey-Wells

Illinois’ calendar of athletic events is quite a busy one.

The fall brings the rush of tens of thousands of fans at Memorial Stadium on Saturdays, while Huff Hall fills with a blast of volume for its volleyball matches. The winter brings the sheer excitement of a basketball game at State Farm Center and the breeze rushing through the bleachers at Illinois Field, Eichelberger Field and the Atkins Tennis Center ushers in the spring.

So if you’re preparing to sit down and watch an Illinois sporting event on TV and are hoping to see your kid in the stands, there’s a good chance he or she will be there. Illinois students are loyal fans and attending sporting events is a fun time at the University. If you’re looking to have some family bonding on campus, attending one of these events is a sure way to feel like an Illini.

So without further ado, let’s examine the sporting events your children might attend, sorted by season.

Fall

Football is obviously the big ticket in the fall. Relatively speaking, it’s not actually an expensive ticket, which means it’s very accessible. Fraternity and sorority “Block” draws away a number of kids on Saturdays — ask your kids about that after their first semester — but joining Block I is still a worthwhile experience for most freshmen.

Volleyball is probably the most fun fall sport out there. The Spike Squad is famous for its volume and the team has also been more competitive than the football team in recent years.

Soccer is a fun game to go catch on the weekends as a more casual alternative to football and volleyball: it’s free.

Men’s and women’s tennis and swimming are relatively low-key sports in the fall, but if students are bored, it’s worth a trip to the ARC pool or Atkins to see these teams compete.

The golf and cross-country/track and field teams play year round, but rarely compete at home. Golf is always off-campus and tough to get to, and while cross-country and track may be fun for former runners, they don’t draw much of an audience otherwise.

Winter

Men’s and women’s basketball are the main events of the winter, with the Orange Krush — the men’s student section — definitely serving as one of the most exciting parts of the sporting scene at Illinois. When the State Farm Center is decked out in orange for a game, it’s a sight to behold.

Gymnastics meets are fun for former gymnasts, but I always get nervous watching them — if you’re like me and get a little scared at high flips, you might want to avoid them. Wrestling is the same way, but these teams are very competitive and some of the best in the country.

The Illini Club Hockey team is a big draw on campus, and although the games aren’t free, they provide some big-time excitement.

Spring

Although the spring is quieter sports-wise at Illinois, the recent success of the baseball team makes that an interesting proposition for newly minted Illini fans.

Both softball and baseball offer grass to sit on along the base lines, which was a favorite spot of mine during the spring semester of my freshman year.

Tennis moves outside during the spring, and the men’s team is particularly fun to watch, given their recent success.

If you find yourself missing other sports, of course, there’s the Spring Football game, which could use more attendants, and there is the occasional spring soccer match.

Peter is a junior in Media.

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