Zach Donnenfield | Mustang News

The latest Cal Poly Men’s Soccer Blue-Green Rivalry match displayed the rare energy that comes from a filled stadium, as Alex G. Spanos Stadium sold out its 11,075 seats. As the lines outside grew by the hundreds and flying tortillas hit the field on Sept. 30, the Cal Poly men’s soccer team was thrust into an atmosphere unlike any other college soccer stadium.

For larger schools, the stadiums and arenas regularly host an abundance of students. For Cal Poly athletes and students, sold-out crowds in the university’s smaller arenas are rare, but allow for an immersive experience.

“I personally think no amount of storytelling or preparation could’ve prepared me for that,” freshman defender Brecc Evans said. “When I was being recruited … [head coach Steve Sampson] showed me videos of the game and the atmosphere and everyone storming onto the field at the end and lifting the players up almost as if they’re like heroes or kings of the school.”

“I personally think no amount of storytelling or preparation could’ve prepared me for that”

Those became a reality as the Mustangs ended up defeating the Gauchos 1-0 in a high-intensity match that came down to the last second. With roaring fans, flying tortillas and rushing field crashers, it is no surprise that many players describe it as unforgettable.

“Most of the time I was trying to focus on my play, on the soccer, but no matter how hard you try to focus, you still hear everyone cheering for every single 50/50 ball and every single header,” Evans said. “From the stands, you can just hear large amounts of yelling from young energetic students, so it’s not like a normal game … it’s a completely different beast in itself.”

Mott Athletics Center also serves as a venue for exciting games and historic runs, headlined by the No. 12 Cal Poly women’s volleyball team.

Before sweeping UC Santa Barbara on Friday, the Mustangs defeated the Rainbow Wahine 3-1 on Oct. 6 in another intense rivalry game between the top two Big West Conference teams. The match against Hawai’i drew a sold out crowd for the second straight year, after last year’s match against the Big West Conference rival was played in front of Cal Poly Volleyball’s first sell out crowd since 2006.

“To see a line forming outside of [Mott Athletics Center] two hours early was something that I knew was going to be historic,” senior outside hitter Adlee Van Winden said. “It’s just a sense of security, like your hard work is being recognized by those in the community and they want to be a part of something; I think that’s truly what a lot of people play sports for.”

The Cal Poly men’s basketball team has also experienced the unique, intimate environment of Mott Athletics Center.

YouTube video

Video by Brian Truong

“When it’s packed and all the bleachers are out, every seat is filled and it’s like the fans are on the court,” senior guard Donovan Fields said. “When you hear their voices and everybody is cheering, sometimes I can’t even hear [head coach Joe Callero].”

In Mott Athletics Center, the stands are pulled all the way down, right up to the court. With the fans closer than usual, the players are able to feel the intensity from the pregame warm ups to the last second of the action.

“All eyes in the gym are on you, so sometimes that may make people feel a lot of pressure,” Fields said. “But for me its like its just another opportunity to step up and just do something spectacular.”

“All eyes in the gym are on you, so sometimes that may make people feel a lot of pressure”

For the athletes, seeing the fans in the stands up close speaks to the level of support the community has for them.

“One of my biggest selling points for people who ask me why I love Cal Poly and if they should come is, I think a community is a really big deal,” Van Winden said. “To be a part of one that supports you and that really believes in what you’re doing is something that not a lot of schools have.”

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