Cody Cousino / Photo editor
This Saturday at ‘Shoe will be nothing like any current Ohio State student has seen before.
In an attempt to better connect students to student-athletes, football coach Urban Meyer has opened his morning practice to students, faculty and staff at Ohio Stadium this Saturday.
In an exclusive interview with The Lantern, Meyer said how important this event is to him.
“So often you get the football team separated from your student body,” Meyer said. “That’s awful, that’s not right.”
Meyer said this now-annual tradition is supposed to give students a feeling of ownership of their team, and to give them the access they want.
“It’s your team, we’re here for you,” Meyer said. “We’re going to celebrate with you after the game, we’re going to sing the fight song with you. We’re here for you guys. We’re not just saying that. That’s why we do this and our guys are excited about it.”
Bryan Ashton, chair for the Council on Student Affairs and a fourth-year in finance, said Meyer approached the Office of Student Life about three weeks ago with the idea of establishing a tradition.
“We really see it as a way to connect the students not just to coach Meyer but also to all the student-athletes that are there … give them the opportunity to see them and meet them … on more of a personal level instead of just watching them from the south stands during the Spring Game,” Ashton said.
Practice will start at 10:45 a.m. and will run until about 12:45 p.m. During practice, attendees will have the opportunity to tour the locker room and press boxes. After practice, students are invited to go down on the field to meet players, coaches and staff, or just hang out on the field and play football at Ohio Stadium, Ashton said.
Admission is free and doors open at 10:15 a.m. Families of students, faculty and staff are also welcome and only one BuckID per group is needed.
The cost of the event to OSU was not immediately available.
Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for student life, said she hopes this brings together the OSU community even more.
“We are proud to be a partner of this exciting event,” Adams-Gaston said. “Saturday at the ‘Shoe is an excellent opportunity for all students to get together, interact and celebrate the university as a whole.”
Josh Samuels, a third-year in marketing, agreed.
“I am most excited that it looks like Urban Meyer is trying to bring the students and the team together,” Samuels said. “In years past, I believe there has been a disconnect of the football team and the general student body, as football players are sometimes treated like celebrities on campus. Making the football team part of the campus community will hopefully help break down that divide.”
Jenna Craig, a third-year in strategic communication, said she appreciates Meyers’ consideration of those who are on the outside looking in.
“It’s a unique opportunity that we’ve never been offered before as students,” Craig said. “Practices always seemed closed off and secret during the Tressel era, and I think it’s refreshing that Urban is already thinking about the student body and faculty.”
Samuels said he is looking forward to seeing this year’s team and the changes Meyer has made.
“I think this will be the first of many Urban Meyer traditions,” Samuels said. “I appreciate that Meyer is bringing this team into a newer era of college football.”
Meyer said he hopes students will walk away from Saturday with a sense of rapport.
“Whoever comes, they can say, ‘That’s my team cause I was on the field with them, I was in the locker room with them, this is what these guys go through, I met the coaches, we have a relationship,'” Meyer said.