Sojka Psychos revamped for 2017-18 basketball season

Elise Covert, Sports Co-Editor

The Department of Athletics & Recreation has launched an effort to revitalize the Sojka Psychos student section for Bison basketball games for the 2017-2018 season. The hope is to bring it back to its former glory, when Sojka Pavilion was the most intimidating place to play in the Patriot League and nationally-televised contests showed seas of raucous students dressed in orange.

Todd Newcomb ’88, Senior Associate Director of Athletics, External Affairs, and Bison Club, is leading the effort with input from a focus group of University students. The process started by partnering with the CAP Center to recruit a diverse group of students who all have ties to Bison Athletics in some way and asking them the simple question: “How do you, as students here at Bucknell, think the student experience can be better and more attractive at the Bucknell basketball games?”

Ideas ranged from more interaction with the players, to gear for frequent student section members, to playoff perks. With this feedback, the idea for a new and improved Sojka Psychos student section was born.

The membership price this year is $20, and in the past week the Department of Athletics & Recreation have begun recruiting students to register as Sojka Psychos in the ELC Mall during lunch hours. After paying the fee, each member receives an orange Adidas long-sleeved dri-fit shirt, complete with the bison head logo that is usually reserved for student-athlete gear. Additionally, Sojka Psychos members receive free busing to select away games and guaranteed admission to playoff games that the University hosts for both the men’s and women’s games. Students are able to charge the $20 to their B-bill account. Online sign-ups will be open as soon possible.

Eventually, the goal is to have the Sojka Psychos be completely student-run and not guided by the Department of Athletics & Recreation.

“I remember never missing a single basketball game when I was a student at Bucknell, and the teams, while very good, were not as dominant as our current student-athletes.  The games were a place everyone came to be together, and the school spirit was tremendous,” Newcomb said.

The Sojka Psychos originated in 2003. Members coined the name when the new arena opened that same year and worked with the athletics staff to become the official Bison student fanbase. During the mid-2000s, Newcomb said that the student section filled both baseline zones of Sojka Pavilion. Led by soccer player Joey Kuterbach ’08, they cheered on the Bison teams that upset Kansas and Arkansas in back-to-back March Madness tournaments.

“He came dressed in a construction hard hat and orange blazer, and rallied his friends to join the group.  That led to more and more students wanting to get in on the fun,” Newcomb said.

Athletics Executive Intern Kat Sokirka ’18 worked with the CAP Center to invite students to the focus group and has been a vocal proponent of increasing student support for athletics during her time as an intern.

“Last season was so incredibly successful for our athletic programs all around,” Sokirka said. “We’re looking to build off that momentum and create the environment we saw at the Patriot League Championship Game for every basketball game this season. I’m so excited for everyone to see the ideas the Athletic Department and the new student committee have come up with over the past few weeks. I guess all I have to say is, ‘Come Early, Be Loud and Wear Orange!'”

Join the Sojka Psychos now to guarantee that you receive your shirt in time for the Bison’s home opener on Dec. 2 against Vermont.

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