Walking through the doors of Hagan Arena is a feeling like no other. I stepped into the arena on the night of December 3rd when our Saint Joseph’s Hawks were set to face one of our biggest rivals, the Temple University Owls. When we face another Big 5 school, you can throw the records off the table and you know that the game will be close.
I took my normal seat in the second row of the student section where I have been sitting for the past two years. I am an avid basketball fan and a part of the Booster Club, or as we like to call it, 54th Airborne. As I watched warm-ups, the anticipation of the big rivalry game was building. The arena began to fill up and all the Hawk fans (and some Temple fans) were filing into their seats. You could feel the excitement of all the fans, especially me; all of them hoping that their team would have more points on the scoreboard when the final buzzer sounded. As warm-ups came to a close, my excitement now became nervousness. I was ready for the game to begin.
Prior to the tip-off, all of the students in attendance sang the Hawk fight song. This song involves chanting out H-A-W-K-S, singing “Oh When The Hawks Go Flying In,” and chanting “Let’s Go Saint Joe’s!” The voices of close to a thousand students rang through Hagan. The ref blew his whistle, threw the ball in the air, and the game was underway. The first few minutes of the game were back and forth. The Owls jumped out to an early lead but the Hawks quickly fought back and gained the momentum. The Hawks played stellar defense and forced lots of turnovers. Players like DeAndre Bembry, James Demery and Chris Wilson were fighting for every loose ball and putting their hands in every passing lane. The team as a whole was playing their heart out. The fans, in particular the student section, were feeding off of the energy that the team was exhibiting. 54th Airborne was belting out chant after chant. As time was expiring in the first half, SJU gained possession of the ball leading by 9. Isaiah Miles then hit a three pointer that beat the buzzer and the crowd erupted. This big shot gave us a 12-point lead at the half.
The anticipation of the second half was evident throughout Hagan. The place was buzzing. I was talking to my friends about what we thought the Hawks needed to do in the second half to come out victorious. We were all ecstatic with how the game had gone so far and could not wait for the second half to begin. The second half began pretty much the same way the first half ended. The Hawks continued to play well and the crowd was behind them cheering until we lost our voices. The Hawks maintained the lead for the majority of the half until Temple began to make a run. They clawed back and cut the Hawk lead to one point with less than a minute to play. After Isaiah Miles made 1 out of 2 free throws, Temple had the ball, down two points with only 11 seconds on the clock. This was the most nerve-wracking point of the game. I did not know what to think. I truthfully could not even think because I was overtaken with nerves. Temple inbounded the ball and their point guard took the ball to the rim but Bembry blocked his shot. The ball was still loose and with the clock was ticking closer towards zero, Temple gained possession only to be denied once again. After that scramble of a final play, the buzzer sounded and our Hawks were victorious!
The place erupted in complete frenzy and I was left completely speechless. The final eleven seconds of the game felt like hours and I was relieved that they were finally over. The feeling of victory was so sweet and it was even sweeter being able to enjoy it with the whole Hawk family that was in attendance!
After the game was completed, 54th Airborne and many other fans stuck around to sing the song “Mine Eyes,” which is sung immediately after every game, win or loss. Singing it on this particular night was extra great because of how the Hawks played on the court that night. The Hawks left everything on the floor against Temple. Being able to be in Hagan Arena with over 4,000 other Hawk fans is something that is truly special. I am always proud to be a Hawk but my pride reaches extreme heights after the Hawk basketball team wins. The feeling of victory is so sweet and being able to cheer my heart out with all of the Hawk faithful is something that I will cherish forever. The memories I gain through being a part of 54th Airborne are endless. Through the actions of the players on the court and the passion shown by all fans, it perfectly epitomizes all that Saint Joseph’s University means and the endless pride that all of the Hawk family has for the university we love! THE HAWK WILL NEVER DIE!
Bradley Spangler is a junior Sports Marketing major from Carlisle, PA. On campus, he is a member of the SJU Men’s Club Soccer Team, SJU Booster Club, and SJU Sports Marketing Club. He is a lover of all things sports and an avid fan of all Philadelphia sports teams.