Mustang Maniacs aim to keep high school spirit aspirations alive

Dylan Hall

Nadia Miralrio, sociology freshman and Robert Lukeman, computer science junior at the Midwestern State v. Angelo State. MSU won in the last minute of the game 28-21. Photo by Bridget Reilly

Nestled at the heart of MSU athletics lies a small spirit group with uncharted, explosive potential.

“Our goal is to bring some fun into the student section of the stands to where people are standing the whole game – immersed in it. The potential of school spirit our student body has is nowhere near maximized,” Payton Hreha, student president and computer science major, said.

The Mustang Maniacs formed two years ago and have endured waves of controversy during their tenure as the main spirit group of the MSU athletics department.

The organization is open to anyone in the student body of any age or gender. It costs five dollars to join, along with minimal annual dues that cover for paint in school colors and any other worthy athletic merchandise. With such an accessible, simplistic set-up for such a positive organization, the Mustang Maniacs have still fallen short in its growth and ability to effectively spread school spirit to the rest of the student body.

“The issue that we are having is once the class that started the organization for that year graduates, the organization tends to die out, so it becomes just that one class involved right now we would like to get the word out that we are an organization,” Hreha said.

The school changed its mascot over a decade ago and upset a lot of students and people in the community. that particular instance is believed to be an underlying cause of the lack of school spirit.

However, Hreha said he believes it is a combination of a lack of true knowledge for what the organization stands for and even more so a lack of traditional school spirit as the main issues the Mustang Maniacs are faced with overcoming.

“We’re trying to find people that are connected with sports, maybe they are on the soccer team and go to a football game – they can be a Maniac. We’re just trying to find the people who we see really involved in the game and bring them in. I think once people see how much fun we are having they are going to want to join us – that’s the issue we have organization wise,” Hreha said.

According to Hreha, the lack of school spirit is seen across all the sports but most significantly at football, the school’s most popular sport.

“We’re pretty much trying to bring more school spirit into the stands. If you pay attention at some of the football games you’ll see a lot of people are huddled together in various spots and half of those groups are always on their phone or they are not paying attention to the game,” Hreha said.

At the sporting events, the Maniacs cannot be missed, they are usually at the front of the crowd, waving the MSU flag, expressing true maroon and gold pride.  According to Hreha, the group is aspiring to create a family-oriented environment.

“We try to run off a point system, so if you attend a certain number of games, we see you want to be involved and then you become initiated in the organization. We’re not like a fraternity but we are trying to have a community like that, kind of like a family,” Hreha said.

Hreha also addressed the positive growth outlook for the Maniacs.

“At the end of last year we had eight members. This year we are starting out with six official members and we have maybe 15-20 interested people. So if they attend enough games before homecoming of any sport going on right now, they can join the Maniacs,” Hreha said.

Despite being a thunderous spirit group, Hreha said the group have not crossed the line and have made a conscious effort to stay in good standing with the university and athletic conference.

“We have been sure to keep in touch with the athletic advisors just to make sure we have their permission and are staying in line with all the Lone Star Conference rules – so far we have been making good progress,” Hreha said.

Ricinda Turner, mass communication junior and two-year member, said the group is taking different approaches this year to increase awareness and raise school spirit.

“One thing we are doing differently this year compared to previous years is we have started contacting coaches and different players so we can ask them what the rules are for cheering in that particular sport. So that we can go and support the sports that don’t get the ‘big hype’ and follow their rules,” Turner said.

Turner also said she believes that spreading knowledge of the organization is a very important aspect to the success of the group.

“We are making a conscious effort to spread knowledge of our organization in the community. We don’t want to be the Mustang Maniacs that only go to here or there. We want everyone to know that we’re at all of the sporting events,” Turner said.

Turner addressed concerns that students may feel intimidated or feel that the organization is rigid and exclusive as another underlying issue stunting the organization’s growth and hindering the spread of school spirit.

“All we ask is for you to have the same love for sports and want school spirit and want our organization to grow. You don’t have to know everything that’s going on in that sport, you can always learn. As long as you have the school spirit and you want to be there and want to have fun, you will be a great member of our group,” Turner said.

However according to student president Hreha, these aspects do not represent the real challenge for the Mustang Maniacs. Ironically, the real challenge exists in implementing the actual cheering and behaving like a proud mustang.

“As Maniacs we try and stand for the duration for the whole game to send a message to people that we are serious about making an impact on the games. The issue we have is, we let people behind us know that we are standing for the entire game but once it starts getting packed, people become irritated that we are standing and moving around, so they try to get us to sit down or try get us in trouble so that we are forced to move,” Hreha said.

One instance in particular, at a men’s basketball game towards the end of last semester, shed light on one of the worrying issues the Maniacs encountered.

“So many people were complaining that they couldn’t see the game and that we needed to sit down. If you are at the game in the student section you should want to be standing up and be fully involved in the game,” Hreha said.

Hreha stressed the strong level of resistance the maniacs have towards any nay-sayers and said that he believes with continues efforts, there will be an end to the reverberations of dull school spirit.

“Even though we’ve only been an organization for two years and we’ve ran into all these problems, we don’t let that stop us. We’re still trying our best to spread strong school spirit and trying to get people involved even if it’s just standing up a little bit during a game or wearing your maroon shirt to the games or on Friday’s,” Hreha said.

Clint Coulter, faculty advisor and Pierce Hall director, said he hopes to see the groups efforts rewarded with unprecedented growth this year.

“It would be a really awesome idea to see at least 50 percent of the student body painted up and going to the games to cheer on our sport teams. The students that are representing Mustang Maniacs are great people and great students that are full of spirit and full of energy — that’s what the Maniacs are looking for,” Coulter said.

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Brandon Allen, mechanical engineering sophomore, cheers with members of the stang gang at Midwestern State University v. Eastern New Mexico game at AT&T Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Sept. 20, 2014. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Brandon Allen, mechanical engineering sophomore, cheers with members of the stang gang at Midwestern State University v. Eastern New Mexico game at AT&T Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Sept. 20, 2014. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Micah Whitworth, criminal justice freshman, cheers with the stang gang at Midwestern State University v. Eastern New Mexico game at AT&T Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Sept. 20, 2014. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Micah Whitworth, criminal justice freshman, cheers with the stang gang at Midwestern State University v. Eastern New Mexico game at AT&T Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Sept. 20, 2014. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Kevin Nop, mechanical engineering freshman, Zach Davis, history and education freshman, Coleman Reidling, history sophomore, and Brandon Allen, mechanical engineering sophomore, cheers as members of the stang gang at Midwestern State University v. Eastern New Mexico game at AT&T Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Sept. 20, 2014. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Kevin Nop, mechanical engineering freshman, Zach Davis, history and education freshman, Coleman Reidling, history sophomore, and Brandon Allen, mechanical engineering sophomore, cheers as members of the stang gang at Midwestern State University v. Eastern New Mexico game at AT&T Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Sept. 20, 2014. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Nadia Miralrio, sociology freshman and Robert Lukeman, Computer science junior at the Midwestern State v. Angelo State. MSU won in the last minute of the game 28-21. Photo by Bridget Reilly
Nadia Miralrio, sociology freshman and Robert Lukeman, Computer science junior at the Midwestern State v. Angelo State. MSU won in the last minute of the game 28-21. Photo by Bridget Reilly
The Mustang Maniacs hold up the 'stang' sign while yelling as Midwestern State's kicker, Andy Alkhazshvilly, business management senior, starts off the first game of the season, Sat. Sept. 5. MSU beat Truman State 31-3 at Memorial Stadium. Photo by Rachel Johnson
The Mustang Maniacs hold up the 'stang' sign while yelling as Midwestern State's kicker, Andy Alkhazshvilly, business management senior, starts off the first game of the season, Sat. Sept. 5. MSU beat Truman State 31-3 at Memorial Stadium. Photo by Rachel Johnson
The Mustan Maniacs go wild for the camera to be on TV in the 2015 Maroon and Gold Spring game, Saturday April 18, 2015, which ended early due to a lightening sighting. The first 1,000 fans to attend were given free tshirts, the Kiowa Cooks gave out free hot dogs, along with other bounce houses and free activites for kids. The Maroon team beat the Gold team 7-3. Photo by Rachel Johnson
The Mustan Maniacs go wild for the camera to be on TV in the 2015 Maroon and Gold Spring game, Saturday April 18, 2015, which ended early due to a lightening sighting. The first 1,000 fans to attend were given free tshirts, the Kiowa Cooks gave out free hot dogs, along with other bounce houses and free activites for kids. The Maroon team beat the Gold team 7-3. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Robert Lukeman, computer science junior, and Nadia Miralrio sociology freshman, look on at the Midwestern State v. Angelo State game. MSU won in the last minute of the game 28-21. Photo by Bridget Reilly
Robert Lukeman, computer science junior, and Nadia Miralrio sociology freshman, look on at the Midwestern State v. Angelo State game. MSU won in the last minute of the game 28-21. Photo by Bridget Reilly
at the Midwestern State v. Angelo State. MSU won in the last minute of the game 28-21. Photo by Bridget Reilly
at the Midwestern State v. Angelo State. MSU won in the last minute of the game 28-21. Photo by Bridget Reilly

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