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Most people are aware of Gonzaga University’s existence because of our nationally ranked men’s basketball team. Even the students typically prioritize men’s basketball games over other sports because of the hype around it and its abundance of media coverage. They wait in line for hours and sleep in a tent with snow on the ground during Tent City just for a decent spot in the stands.

Men’s basketball is their blind spot, but there is so much more to GU athletics. Women’s basketball, volleyball, soccer, baseball, tennis, cross country, track and field, golf, rowing – all of these sports deserve recognition from the GU student body for the extensive effort and vigor they put into honing their craft, and by going to their competitions to cheer them on you can demonstrate that acknowledgement.

“Just grab a friend and just go to the games,” Kennel Club Vice President Danielle Peretti said.

All sporting events at GU are not only completely free of charge for students but they are also a great form of relief from the stresses of college. When worried about a test, a relationship, money or anything else, attending a sporting event with a couple of friends can serve as an effective distraction. For freshmen in particular, it also serves as a useful method to meet new people.

There is an intriguing sport for every season during the school year, not just winter. Part of Kennel Club’s goal is to inform people about every sport on campus so that students are aware of all the opportunities they have to support their fellow Zags and have a good time while doing it.

“They all have their own unique pace, [their] own unique style,” Kennel Club Treasurer Austin Versteeg said.

At soccer games in the spotty fall weather, friends lay out a blanket on the grass under a famous Spokane sunset or sit on the cold bleachers wrapped up in layers with a cup of hot chocolate warming their hands. Meanwhile, they observe the players dribbling around the field showing off their amazing footwork and bangers into the goal.

Baseball is another gratifying sport to watch with a group of friends. You can go out to eat before the game, and then sit in the springtime sun and chat for hours while watching players sprint around the bases and make unbelievable catches in the field.

Besides soccer and baseball, volleyball is another exciting sport to watch. Since the games take place in the Martin Centre, which is much smaller than the McCarthey Athletic Center, the fans stand even closer to the players and get to feel like they are a part of the action. They are afforded the opportunity to heckle the other team, cheer thunderously for their school and, ultimately, bring the Kennel atmosphere outside of The Kennel.

“It’s always so electric and you get a lot of fun involvement from the crowd, both student-wise and community-wise,” Peretti said.

The Kennel doesn’t average as many students for women’s basketball games as it does with men’s basketball, but the number of families, alumni and sports fanatics make up for it. The energy at these games is as explosive as the men’s games, if not more so.

The women’s team often shows as much promise as the men’s team which makes the games exciting and rewarding to watch. Since fewer students attend the women’s games, it is easier to get a front-row seat without having to sleep in freezing temperatures or do homework on the ground while holding a spot in line like you would have to do for men’s basketball games.

“It is upsetting to me to see that our women’s team doesn’t get as much acknowledgment,” Peretti said. “I mean they had a record-breaking season last season and they’ve just been doing so so well.”

Some sports matches are more difficult to attend because their locations are not always right on campus. Home tennis matches are played three blocks east of campus at the Steven’s Center, but cross country, track and field, golf, and rowing all compete at more distant locations for home events.

It is still easy to support these athletes and stay up to date with their team’s record by livestreaming the events. Along with that, each team, as well as the Kennel Club, has nearly every form of social media, which is consistently updated with upcoming games, results and athlete recognition. Sharing these posts is a great way to acknowledge their accomplishments.

“Just do your part as much as possible to support Zags,” Versteeg said.

Kennel Club sends out an email every week with upcoming dates and promotions for certain games that encourage students to attend. The club always welcome any questions and feedback through social media, email or during office hours.

Getting into different sports as a freshman is exciting because you get to watch those teams develop over the next four years. Tumultuous cheering is never required but always encouraged. When a goal is scored or a home run is hit, screaming until you can’t speak and applauding until your hands sting can be the best part of the whole game.

“Go to as many games as you can while you have the chance,” Kennel Club President, Clare Martin said. “You have to take advantage of it while you can.”

Samantha DiMaio is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @dimaio_samantha.

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