The Underdog Heroes of Small School Football Pride

There are hoards of endorphin fueled college students—made up of both non sporty and highly sporty people—who stand color-coded, painted, and proud, waiting for their chance to yell into any camera that comes near. They aren’t fearful of future employers or the concern of their parents. Nor are they foolish bimbos on spring break. They are ancient disciples of a timeless American tradition. They’re college football fans.

As over-dramatic as they seem, there is good reason for this rowdy group of advocates. Football games and tailgates bring tons of students, alumni and community members together. You get to meet new people here, you’re outside, you get a distraction from screens and most importantly, you discover school pride (who cares if you need a heated and unreasonable rivalry to do it?)

If you think this lively atmosphere is reserved for the big-dog, Orange bowl winning schools—you're a fool. Or you just haven't heard of Schools like Saint Johns University where nearly all of their 3,600 undergrad students race to the stadium every Saturday and sing the school fight song in their sleep. 

These following five Division III schools set a mark for underdog pride and exuberance, showing us all that you don’t need corporate sponsors and Greek god-like athletes to have a rich football tradition. These students want to be just as legendary as the fans that show up on National television, and despite being in the lowest possible athletic division, they succeed. Now we honor them. 

Saint John's University of Minnesota

Average audience size: 7,752

Enveloped in a row of Minnesota pine trees sits St. John’s Universities Clemens Stadium. AKA The Natural Bowl. All the sensations evoked from good, old-fashion pig-skin games are found here—rugged autumn themed nature, tight-knit students packed into bleacher, and even the legend of a humble former coach who preached moral lessons and refused to run dangerous hitting drills. He coached until he was 75 and became the winningest college football coach of all time. His legend lives on through the studen fans who are a part of the largest average audience for DIII games. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hampden-Sydney College

Average audience size: 7,252

The Hampden-Sydney Tigers are a dominant team in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Though a small liberal arts college, the school has a strong commitment to supporting student-athletes, which starts with an extremely loyal fan base. They regularly pack their new stadium, making the games a Saturday night tradition at the school.

 

McDaniel College

Average audience size: 5,497

McDaniel’s football team dates back to 1891 when the helmets were leather and neither world wars had yet to be fought. While the school hasn’t managed to move out of Division III in the past 124 years they have built an immense fan base that voices a rivalry with both Gettysburg College and Johns Hopkins University. These underdogs will pick a fight with anybody. 

 

University of Wisconsin Whitewater

Average audience size: 5,455

This video says it all about the four time National Championship Warhawk Football team.

 

Emory & Henry College

Average audience size: 5,341

The Wasps compete in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, one of the toughest in the Nation. Students from this sweet school in the hills of Virginia come to Fred Selfe Stadium with as much intensity and a desire to win as their team—and so does their team. 

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