As serious DU sports fans (and alumni), we’re lucky. We get to outlast the current students, athletes, coaches, administrators and chancellors in the on-going chain of Pioneer tradition. Additionally, we have the benefit of long-term context: we have witnessed the athletic growth of our school over the last 30 years from a NCAA Division II/NAIA backwater with a mostly struggling D-I hockey team in the 1980s, to a top 5 Capital One Cup full D-I athletics program with 30 NCAA titles and many NCAA-caliber teams in 2015. We have a lot more to cheer about nowadays, and our university punches way above its weight when it comes to sports. The DU teams not only do well in competition, but also in the classroom (90% graduation rate/ 3.3 athletic GPA) and in the community, where volunteer hours are high and police-blotter appearances are exceedingly rare.
Our fan base is slowly growing too, despite an over-saturated local sports market where our school has to fight for attention against about 8-10 local pro teams, world class ski areas and 5 larger public Division I schools within a morning’s drive of our campus. Unlike most school fan bases, many DU fans didn’t grow up cheering for the Pioneers, as 75% of them come from outside of Colorado. And getting the casual, Denverite’s interest in Pioneer sports has never been easy as a private school, compared to taxpayer-supported public schools such as CU, CSU or North Dakota. On top of that, today's college students and fans have incredible digital and video entertainment options that make it harder than ever for college sports to compete (as many schools can attest, with student attendance declines becoming the recent norm).
Personally, it’s great to see this blog being revived after DU super-fan Damien Goddard did such a great job developing it from 2005-2013. Damien and his crew gave us some eight years of diligence, information, sarcasm, humor, scoops, and incredible fan interactions between our own fan community and with fans of other schools. Damien filed stories every day on this blog in those days, linked us to other publications with up-to-the-minute content and was extremely active in promoting DU school spirit — which was the core purpose of the blog. Over time, the blog became a must-read not only for DU fans, but for fans of rival schools as well. In addition, such a blog has advantages over official channels, as interactive opinions can be expressed openly, and a critical audience can give the administration an invaluable real-time read of the die-hards in the fan base...and that element sometimes helps foster needed changes. As a serious and dedicated DU fan, I am always in awe of those who go above and beyond for our Denver Pioneer fan community. DU alumnus Tim Thompson, who is taking on the restart of this blog (after many years of previous work by Damien Goddard), is a special breed of DU fan. A former large oil company executive with global experience, Tim, like Damien before him, knows how to communicate and manage ideas in a complex, changing marketplace. Fortunately, he also now has a reservoir of time and energy that running a fan blog like this one requires.
One of the LetsgoDU blog’s finest contributions, in my opinion, was the ability of DU fans from around the country to participate in the building of the revitalized Denver Boone mascot back in 2009, with crowd-funding, enthusiasm and creative wishes/critiques pouring in until Boone became a reality. Damien’s mascot crew conceptualized, fundraised, built and implemented a professional-level mascot in a matter of weeks for about $5,000. DU spent at least $60,000 on its own mascot committee in 2013 — never progressing past many meetings and a few drawings — and that process ended as a media embarrassment.
As DU’s administration continues to struggle with its complicated relationship with its own Western heritage, it’s vitally important that fans keep supporting the school, its teams and this blog. Unlike other schools with large fan bases, who can generate active fan conversations on dedicated message boards, DU currently has only a small but vocal presence on such sports message boards. These would include USCHO.com (college hockey) or lacrosse message boards such as laxpower.com.
Accordingly, the earlier LetsGoDU blog quickly became not only an information point, but a DU fan community gathering place. It’s up to all of us to help get that going again. Certainly, there almost 2,000 DU fans who have joined the "DU Have Spirit" page on Facebook, and there is additional fan engagement brewing with Twitter and Instagram. In fact, the first year DU students in the class of 2019, who just arrived on campus last week, were only eight years old when the blog began in 2005. We will do our best to extend the blog’s content into social media with the help of those who know what they are doing in this fast-moving arena.
So, Pioneer fans, please join us in helping Tim out if you have time, interest and skills.It won’t be easy, but getting this blog back is a great step for all of Pioneer Nation.
Blog Note: Puck Swami has played an active role in supporting all things DU, especially athletics. Thanks for supporting LetsGoDU in the past & moving forward!