Move over Bulldog and Yellow Jacket fans, Georgia State Athletics is no longer playing a “prevent defense” when it comes to marketing and showing off their athletic teams, they are in an “all-out blitz,” and it was evident Sunday afternoon at Hurt Park in Downtown Atlanta.
The third annual GSU Block Party drew upwards of 3,000 students, alumni and fans curious to see what is going on with Georgia State Athletics. While the free food, drinks and music were great, fans and students, especially the freshmen loved meeting the teams they will be supporting this fall.
Talking to the fans in attendance, what is “going on” is a move to the Sun Belt Conference in 2013, the addition of a new sport and an overall excitement the likes of which those associated with Georgia State have never seen before.
According to Mike Holmes, Associate Director/Sports Communications at Georgia State the whole campus is excited.
“We like to call ourselves “Atlanta’s Team” since we are located downtown and in an urban area, we feel it’s important to get out and do events like this block party and get everyone involved.”
Holmes says he realizes Georgia State could be overlooked because they are located in a big city, but that’s not going to happen.
“We’re within the city and we’re proud of that,” added Holmes. “We hope to bring the city out…and since we live in the South and now have college football and are making the transition to FBS we are continuing progress.
Part of that transition is that move to the Sunbelt Conference next year. That will put Georgia State in a conference with schools of similar size and tradition and help create some natural rivalries.
As for this football season, there is a lot of optimism.
“There are people that are considering themselves fans of Georgia State Football now,” stated Mark Hogan, inside linebacker and a four-year member of the Georgia State Football Team. “People really want us to be successful and win every game we play.”
One other sport that Georgia State is hoping fans get behind is a new sport not only Georgia State , but one that’s pretty new to the NCAA, sand volleyball.
Fresh off the London Olympics, sand volleyball is generating a lot of talk and sand volleyball courts in Downtown Atlanta will be something unique.
Tami Audia will serve as head coach of both the court and sand volleyball teams at GSU and she thinks that sand volleyball will be a hit from day one.
“When we designed the courts back there, we kept in mind the things everyone knows about sand or beach volleyball.”
Audia says it’s going to be more of a hang out and party atmosphere with a boardwalk being constructed for fans to walk on between the courts.
Georgia State is one of about two dozen schools that will field a sand volleyball team in 2012-13 and it’s a sport Georgia or Georgia Tech doesn’t offer.
The great turnout of fans to dance, eat and learn more about Georgia State brought a smile to the student-athletes and the school administrators walking the grounds. The fans gave the school’s athletic teams a boost of confidence heading into their seasons and it’s good to see.
And it’s a two-way street. Georgia State is giving back to the community and this block party along with student-athletes performing well in the classroom and on the field, everything is looking up for Georgia State Athletics and fans around Metro Atlanta.
Rick Limpert covers sports and technology in and around Atlanta. You can follow him on Twitter at @RickRoswell.