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Ohio State soccer fans band together to watch Columbus Crew games

Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor

Ohio State football is king of the university, but one group on campus is hoping to stir interest among students in another kind of football match.
The Buckeye Brigade was created to gather avid soccer fans to cheer on OSU soccer, U.S. soccer, and especially, the Columbus Crew. It was formed last summer but was recognized as a registered group by the university last semester. Gathering students together in one place to cheer on the Crew and other soccer teams was a big incentive in creating the group, said Robbie Brickner founder of the Buckeye Brigade.
Brickner, who graduated last semester, said members typically buy their game tickets at the Ohio Union but said the group aims to “organize all the Ohio State students at these events.”
When they don’t attend the games in person they watch them at Midway on High across from the Ohio Union, where the groups gets a 25 percent discount on food and a 20 percent discount on drinks.
The idea for the group was first conceived last summer when several OSU students wanted to create interest in soccer.
Throughout Fall Semester, the brigade focused in on its identity. They met two or three times a month deciding on a name, logo, membership and the goals of the group.
Alex Highley, a fifth-year in political science and president of Buckeye Brigade, said he is trying to get zealous soccer fans united so Crew Stadium resembles the atmosphere of its European counterparts.
“We are trying to get more young people to games. I feel like a lot of the demographic is mostly 50-year-olds with their 7-year-old sons and they are not very passionate,” he said. “They go for a nice Saturday night out, but we want to make it passionate with real soccer fans.”
The Major League Soccer season starts in March and that is when the group will officially have outings and planned events. Until then, the group is planning watch parties, which will include watching English Premier and Champions League football (soccer) and fundraisers.
The group plans to raise money by sweeping the floor of the Schottenstein Center but would eventually like to give back to the city.
“After we get a few members, we will start doing some kind of service or fundraising that doesn’t go to our bank accounts,” Brickner said. “It can go to the Columbus food pantry.”
There are eight members of the club who have paid the $20 annual club fee, however Brickner said up to 25 people have participated in group events.
The group hopes to help build camaraderie and friendship with new people, Brickner said.
Rachel Petty, a fourth-year in sports industry and a new group member, said there is something special about watching soccer with a group of like-minded people.
“I think soccer is a really unique sport,” Petty said. “Where you have to be interested in the sport to watch the sport. When you watch football, everyone thinks they have to watch football because it’s America’s sport. It’s what everyone is doing on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. But when you watch soccer, you are watching soccer with people who want to watch it.”
The brigade wants to sit in the Nordecke section of Crew stadium, which is where the staunch supporters of the Crew cheer on the team.
“When I went to my first game, (I said), ‘This is awesome, this is cheap,'” Brickner said. “It’s close to campus, you can buy tickets through the student union, and they are deeply discounted off what you would normally get. It’s a party, it’s just another thing to do when you don’t have Buckeye football games to go to. I have the same passion for the Columbus Crew as I do for Ohio State.”

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