UNC Asheville’s athletic department has created a fun way for the athletic teams to compete against one another while also promoting a supportive and prideful atmosphere among UNCA athletes. The Dog Bowl encourages the athletic teams to attend and support each others events as a way to gain points and win a prize at the end.
Support and unity are essential components of all athletic teams, specifically UNCA’s Bulldogs. For this reason, UNCA’s Athletic Department has introduced the Dog Bowl in an effort to increase this supportive community among the various athletic teams. Director of Marketing & Fan Engagement Joshua Baker is responsible for the creation of the Dog Bowl and has gone through SAAC for approval.
SAAC, known as the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, is an important aspect of UNCA athletics. The committee is responsible for promoting a positive student-athlete image by allowing the student-athletes a voice and providing various services such as peer tutoring and service projects that enable growth for the athletic community.
“We serve as a committee for UNC Asheville of student-athletes from each team that relays information from the Big South and the NCAA to student-athletes on campus,” said SAAC President Bryson Lee. “We also work with the SGA and student body of the campus to have a positive relationship with athletes and students throughout the year.”
The Dog Bowl creates a friendly competition among the athletic teams by designating points given to whoever attends the chosen events.
“The ultimate goal is to create a cohesive group of athletes supporting each other in our respective sports,” said SAAC Secretary Kyle Adams. “It makes it more enjoyable for those participating in the sport and gives other athletes the opportunity to see their peers thrive on the field, on the court, on the track or in the pool.”
The team with the most points at the end of the season will be declared the winner and will be granted a dinner with Athletic Director Janet Cone. The second place winner will get ice cream with Cone. By using a point system and prizes as a reward to motivate athletes, the turn out of athletic events has and should continue to increase.
Three games have been scheduled so far that count toward the Dog Bowl points, including a game each for men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball. Two of these three games have already been played in the past week. Although the Dog Bowl has just been implemented, it already proves to be successful.
“The volleyball game was a perfect example,” Adams said. “There were at least 6 teams at their game and it gave the Justice Center a bit more of a home crowd advantage.”
The Dog Bowl will continue throughout the year and count toward games in every season. Certain games will even count for sports that are considered to be out of season as well. This will allow for out of season sports to be recognized and will hopefully bring crowds equally as large. Whether or not the Dog Bowl will continue to be a part of the UNCA athletic community is unknown, but things are looking up due to its current success rate.
“I think it will continue to be implemented, and don’t doubt that it will change a bit more moving forward,” Adams said. “There are a lot of moving pieces and making it equitable is still part of the conversation.”
Since the Dog Bowl has already undergone some changes since the idea first surfaced a few years ago, it is susceptible to more changes in an effort to make it even more successful among athletes if deemed necessary in the future.
“Although I believe the Dog Bowl is already plenty successful, I think possibly allowing more games to be included throughout the season for specific teams might add an interesting twist to the bowl,” Lee said.
Incorporating the Dog Bowl creates a distinct community within the athletic department and allows for Bulldog pride to be heightened. This ultimately helps to establish a sense of excitement among the athletes that will continue to flourish in all aspects of athletic events. The positive change in atmosphere, as well as the increasing number of athletes attending these events is being noticed by UNCA athletes aside from those associated with SAAC.
“There’s usually a decent amount of support among the athletics community, at least for sports including men’s soccer, men’s basketball, and volleyball, but with the addition of this competitive component, I’ve noticed a lot more athletes going to each other’s games,” said women’s soccer player Bronwyn Luitweiler. “Specifically the men’s soccer game, the atmosphere was obviously much more loud and lively. Many other teams were there and getting into the game.”
New games will continue to be chosen and counted toward points in the Dog Bowl throughout the year. The next game included will be the women’s soccer game against Mars Hill University on Sept. 11, 2019 at Greenwood Field.
“It’s really exciting to have something that brings the sports teams together more,” Luitwieler said. “Hopefully our game brings out just as many, I can’t wait.”