Sunday, September 19, 1999

St Thomas More home game thrills

School pride goes before fall

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        CRESTVIEW HILLS — More fans were behind the Thomas More Saints on Saturday than ever before — 3,500 of them.

        It was the football team's inaugural game on its new home turf, and although the Saints lost 30-24 in triple overtime to Kentucky Wesleyan, many said it was good to be home.

        “The fan support and crowd support were definitely good,” said Kevin Butler, a senior cornerback from Cincinnati. “I think it makes a great difference.”

        Students and alumni painted their faces blue and white and jammed the bleachers. They wore their Thomas More pride on T-shirts and hats, shook their pompons and waved their towels.

        Others stood on a hill that overlooks one end zone, watching as some fanatical fans did pushups for every point the Saints scored.

Generate excitement
        Since this was the first game the Division III Saints ever played at home, school officials wanted to bring students, faculty and alumni in for a big event.

        Some, like Deborah Habermehl of Erlanger and her granddaughter, Hannah Marsh of Augusta, Ky., waited in line for free hot air balloon rides. Both had matching blue-and-white painted faces.

        “I think it's really something we've needed for a long time to generate some spirit and excitement,” Ms. Habermehl, who works in continuing education at the college, said of the new field. “We need some excitement.”

        WKFS-FM (107.1) also did a live broadcast from 10 a.m. to noon while kids got their faces painted.

        Since the school adopted football in 1990, the team has played home games at Dixie Heights, Beechwood, Lockland and Bellevue high schools, and at Galbraith Field near Kings Island.

        Matt Mattingly, a 1990 graduate from Hamilton, Ohio, said the home field advantage has been a long time coming for the Saints.

        “It's a shame it couldn't have happened years earlier,” said Mr. Mattingly, who was a student on the selection committee for the football team's first head coach.

        “This is a little bit of what college football is all about. This is a very important part of college students' experiences.”

        Bob Edwards, director of college communications, said school officials were optimistic that the event would be a success.

        “Basketball doesn't do it and baseball doesn't do it like football does,” he said. “With football, there's an electric atmosphere.

        “It looks like something everybody can rally around.”


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