Gateway Challenge kicks off fall semester
The first semester of college is all about jumping out of comfort zones and finding ways to get plugged into school and student life. One of the best ways to get involved on campus is attending sporting events. Whether a volleyball match, a soccer game or an intramural tournament, there is always fun to be found among the screaming students in the bleachers.
The Gateway Challenge, launched by athletic administration alongside Gateway instructors, is an initiative to get freshman students immediately and directly engaged with Lee University athletic events.
Last fall, the Gateway Challenge was thought up as a plan to increase student attendance at athletic events. Gateway instructors and peer leaders encourage their students to come to three designated fall sports games in the first month of the semester. There is a sign-in sheet for each Gateway class at every game. At the end of the challenge, the class with the highest attendance wins a pizza and bowling party.
“It gets everyone to get out of their comfort zones —to go and be with their Gateway class and build friendships with their peers,” says David Priatko, a freshman student.
“In order to feel connected, and to feel like you have people around you who love you, you have to participate in things,” says peer leader Katherine Lange, a junior accounting major.
The benefits of this initiative are twofold. Not only does it get freshman students connected in their new environment, but it motivates athletes to perform better. Attendance at the women’s soccer game on Aug. 20, the first of the designated Gateway Challenge games, was especially high. The effect was apparent, as the Lady Flames opened the season with a win from an overtime goal.
“I honestly believe it has a direct and huge impact on the outcome of the game,” says Carman Lastoria, director of athletic communications. “Home field advantage is a very real thing. Our athletes perform better when our students are packing the seats and are loud and into the game.”
When asked why students, particularly freshmen, should participate in athletic events, Lange shrugs, “you never know what to expect.”
The last two events in the Gateway Challenge are on Sept. 10 and 11. It’s time to get #FiredUp!