Revolution in Dunk City
Florida Gulf Coast University has won 30 conference and tournament titles in just six years of being a Division I school.
If the fanatics of Dunk City thought their only recordbreaking team was men’s basketball, they couldn’t be more wrong.
About 3,500 students packed into Alico Arena on August 15 at FGCU’s fourth annual Eagle Revolution. Excitement started building at the door as students received their raffle tickets for the chance to win free iPads, televisions and a picture with FGCU’s newly acquired ESPY Award.
Two thousand Dirty Birds assembled together, their blue shirts staining entire sections of the stands.
DJ Charlie Chase kept the music loud and the fans pumped, but it was the event’s speakers who really ignited the crowd’s passion. The 15 men’s and women’s athletic teams had the crowd soaring in Eagle pride as their coaches boasted about their triumphs.
Women’s basketball coach, Karl Smesko, turned up the intensity as he listed each individual team’s most memorable victories. One by one, he relived the defining moments, ending them every time by pumping his fist and yelling, “How do I know? I was there!”
Cheers resounded as Smesko’s words fueled their enthusiasm. Nick Frohling, a senior majoring in finance, said he was moved by Smesko’s speech.
“I think that Smesko provided the fuel we need to be one of the most athletically spirited universities,” Frohling said. “The naiveté of our school (in terms of athletics) provides such a passionate experience every time we achieve success.”
Anne Ford, a graduate student studying business administration, was one of the original Dirty Birds. This was her fourth Eagle Revolution experience, which she said was a lot different than her first.
“A lot more people are proud to be an FGCU student,” Ford said. “The first year everyone was still wearing their FSU and Gators shirts. Now that we’re growing, people have pride in their school.”
Senior and lacrosse player Matt VanKeuren, had a particularly unique experience that night. His ticket was drawn for the chance to choose between going home with $30, 000 or a brand new car. All he had to do was shoot some hoops. VanKeuren had unlimited attempts to make one layup, one free throw, one three-point shot and a shot from half-court. His only competition: the clock. If he could not complete this task in 25 seconds, then he would walk away with nothing.
“I was excited,” VanKeuren said. “I had the chance. I knew it was kind of impossible, 25 seconds isn’t really that long, but I was going for it.”
Surrounded by the men’s basketball team and hardly a few seconds into his attempt, VanKeuren successfully made his first shot: the layup. A free throw swished smoothly through the net just seconds after, followed by a successful three-point shot. The students in the bleachers roared.
VanKeuren’s first half-court attempt fell short just feet of the net while another ball was swiftly passed off to him.
His second attempt was much closer, bouncing off of the backboard, missing by less than a foot. The third ball left VanKeuren’s finger tips with less than three seconds remaining. The buzzer sounded, the ball hit the rim and the shot bounced off. The entire men’s basketball team rushed toward a grinning VanKeuren with encouragement. New car or not, VanKeuren was treated like a winner.
“I almost did it,” said VanKeuren. “I didn’t expect to get as far as I did.” President Wilson Bradshaw said he was excited to be a part of the student’s roaring.
“What a great way to start the fall semester with Eagle Revolution,” said Bradshaw.
“Let there be no doubt that Dunk City at FGCU is energized and ready to cheer on our outstanding student-athletes and coaches in all 15 sports.”