Ashland athletics are more than football and basketball

By Kevin Stoicovy

It is no secret that Ashland Univeristy has great athletics. But some of Ashland’s more exciting sports seem underhanded to mainstream athletics.

With recent success in “mainstream” sports such as football and basketball, it isn’t uncommon to see many students showing up at Jack Miller Stadium or Kates Gymnasium to cheer on the Eagles.

Ashland didn’t get to the top of the Learfield Cup standing just because of its national champion women’s basketball team or its top-ten nationally ranked football team last season. There were many more sports that contributed.

Baseball, softball, volleyball, wrestling, swimming, and indoor and outdoor track and field combined contributed more than half of Ashland’s points to the Learfield Cup standings.

Unfortunately, these sports are less popular in Ashland despite great success, and that reflects in students’ attendance to these events.

According to, the largest attendance at a home football game was 4,766 on Family Weekend against Lake Erie. The largest home basketball attendance was 2,832 at the NCAA Women’s Midwest Regional Final against Wayne State.

Among those at the Regional Final, more than 500 tickets were sold to Ashland students according to AU Sports Information.

The attendance at all of AU’s other home sport events is significantly less than those numbers at football and basketball games.

Again, much of the attendance at the basketball and football games is largely attributed to the success of those teams. However, this doesn’t explain the decreased student attendance at AU’s other sports, which have had similar championship success.

Perhaps one of the most unique sporting events that Ashland has to offer is its home wrestling meets. Duel meets, when one school’s wrestling team comes to face Ashland head-to-head, are the most exciting.

Kates gymnasium’s lights are all turned off save for one spotlight shining on the mat in the center of the gym. All home spectators are given glowsticks to create a stunning visual atmosphere to go along with the intensity of the sport.

Former AU wrestling coach Tim Dernlan believes that increased student attendance at home wrestling meets, and all home sports events in general, can provide a major boost to team success.

“As a coach, I have seen the difference that it makes when we have a big crowd,” he said. “The team wrestles better when they have a big crowd stomping on the bleachers and waving their glowsticks around. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Wrestling is just one sport that is fun to watch on campus. Women’s volleyball draws decent crowds and is fast-paced. Ashland’s indoor and outdoor track and field events showcase some of the best athletes in the nation. Both the men and women’s swim teams have recently been ranked nationally.

All of these teams compete on campus on a regular basis and it is completely free for students to watch them compete with a student ID.

Baseball and softball may play off campus, but both Donges field and Brookside Park are within walking distance, which makes for a nice spring stroll when the weather gets nice.

If the student body would attend more sporting events on campus, there is potential to make Ashland a more exiting university and begin traditions that haven’t been built yet.

“I hear students say that they have nothing to do, but they don’t go to events on campus,” says Derlan. “There’s a lot to do on this campus and it would make the campus that much better if students showed up.”