Since the creation of the first BJU Bruins athletic teams in 2012, a friendly rivalry has grown between the Bruins intercollegiate teams and the Pensacola Christian College Eagles.
Erin Jarvis, a junior business administration student, has been on the Bruins volleyball team since its formation three years ago. “It’s honestly just a friendly competition,” she said. Jarvis said her team tries to focus on playing games against PCC just as they would any other game.
Jarvis mentioned the intensity in the Davis Field House when they played against PCC on Sept.14 and how hard it was to focus on the game. She also pointed out how important it was for the team. “It was really good, especially for the freshmen, to get that taste of…[the] pressure on us,” she said.“Coach always tells us, ‘don’t focus on what’s going on in the crowd; you have a job to do,’” Jarvis said.
The team tries to just have fun and put on a good show for the crowd.“We’re here because this is our platform together,” Jarvis said. Dr. Brenda Schoolfield, an avid Bruins supporter and the faculty athletics representative, said this rivalry stems not just from athletics but also from the demographics of the universities themselves.
Both PCC and BJU are roughly the same size, and both print Christian education materials.Schoolfield said the competition seems to have an overall positive vibe. “Our crowd is so focused on being Bruins-centered,” Schoolfield said. Support from Bruins fans overwhelmed the Eagles when they played on BJU campus last weekend.
“We don’t need a cheer squad,” Schoolfield said. “People are standing up, and they’re shouting.” While this can be intimidating for the opposing team, it creates a sense of unity and encouraging support for the Bruins.
Daniel Heffernan, a senior business administration major, has played a huge part in supporting the Bruins teams the past three years. He sees his contributions as a way of showing appreciation for the hard work they put into practicing and playing every game.
Heffernan drove a van full of supporters down to PCC last year when the Bruins played against the Eagles.He has also gone to support the Bruins teams at other schools throughout the seasons. “Whenever your team plays in another team’s home court, it’s so much more difficult than when you’re playing on your own,” he said. Heffernan said sometimes just having the support of their fans may be the key to swinging the game in favor of the Bruins.
In the past, Bruins Spirit Day has contributed greatly to the positive mood and community-minded ideals of BJU students, faculty and staff. “It’s an opportunity for everyone to pull together,” Schoolfield said.
Jarvis feels honored to have the support of so many people and is so proud of how far the Bruins teams have come since their creation. “We’re supposed to be doing it for God, and we’re representing our school, so we want to make sure the school has a worthy reason to support our team,” Jarvis said.
Schoolfield recognizes the value in concerts and events like the Lighting Ceremony, but she said an evening spent cheering on a sports team can be just as inspiring.The intense energy level that fills the stadium at athletic events provides spectators with an invigorating experience rather than the more calming experience they would have at a fine arts event.
Spirit Day is an especially good way for freshmen to find their place in the BJU community and make connections they wouldn’t make otherwise. Schoolfield said that during the first few weeks of school, Bruins games provide overwhelmed students with a change of pace and a nice break from studying.
Schoolfield said Spirit Day unifies the student body in a different way than intramural athletics. “There’s something really exciting about the whole school supporting a team,” Schoolfield said. While intramural sports are an integral part of society life and BJU culture, Bruins athletics bring the entire University together.
The strength and unity of so many people fuel the Bruins teams on to some amazing wins.Students, faculty and staff view Spirit Day as a chance to support the Bruins teams and show off their favorite Bruins gear. “Students get out of it what they put into it,” Schoolfield said.
While Bruins home games and Spirit Days cannot be compared with Thanksgiving and spring breaks, Schoolfield said they are still good opportunities to strengthen ties within the Bruins family. Spirit Day in particular is a great way for the BJU family to support their Bruins athletic teams.