After the remarkable fan presence during the game against South Alabama, the student fan base seemed to diminish during last Saturday’s game.
“I was at the box. I looked over to the student section, and it was empty,” said Alina Penjieva, an admissions counselor for the game. “Third quarter – empty, fourth quarter – empty. Where are our fans?”
According to Penjieva, she then noticed that some of the players cheered on their teammates by waving white towels during the tense moments of the game.
“So I said, ‘What if all our fans have white towels, and, you know, we do the same thing, and we don’t stop waving until the clock stops, and we get the win,’” Penjieva said.
The morning after, Penjieva created the White Towel Movement (WTM), a volunteer fan event urging fans to bring any white fabric to wave to the game against Appalachian State this Saturday. Penjieva shared Head Coach Neal Brown’s message to fill all the fan seats of the Veteran Memorial Field (#packthevet) and motivate the team.
“We witnessed it firsthand when we went to the South game,” Penjieva said. “Fourth quarter, all the fans realized that we have to push our team and win this game, so the whole fourth quarter we didn’t sit down.
“When you’re down to fourth quarter and you’re exhausted, yet you look over to the fans and they’re not giving up on you, they’re truly believing in you, that’s when you get that second energy and you just keep forward.”
Montae Barto, a freshman graphic design major from Crestview, Florida, and AJ Smiley, sophomore criminal justice major from Birmingham, are two of the players who wave and twirl white towels to hype their teammates.
“This season I made it my job to encourage and drive my teammates and coaches by twirling the white towel,” Smiley said.
“That would be pretty cool,” he said about the possibility of the whole student section cheering the team in the same way the players do.
Penjieva also noted that fan presence may also help to get Troy ranked as the games with fan presence are more likely to be covered by media channels.
By Tuesday, Nov. 8, the WTM has gathered 1600 towels in volunteer donations, according to Penjieva.
Donated towels will be distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis at the entrance.
Penjieva said those who wish to volunteer with giving out the purchased towels can contact her at her Facebook, Alina Troy.
“We can turn it into tradition, where we actually get sponsored,” she said. “The sky is the limit and above. That’s the goal.”