Beginner’s guide to being a Flashes fan

Kent+State+fans+cheer+on+the+team+as+they+enter+the+dugout+after+celebrating+a+dramatic+win+over+the+Florida+Gators+in+the+College+World+Series+Monday%2C+June+18.+Photo+by+Jeff+Glidden

Kent State fans cheer on the team as they enter the dugout after celebrating a dramatic win over the Florida Gators in the College World Series Monday, June 18. Photo by Jeff Glidden

Ian Round

Kent State’s 2013 football season may begin Thursday, Aug. 29, but the sports fan’s season begins long before that.

A good start is to attend the pep rally at the M.A.C. Center on Aug. 24.

“We introduce the fight song to them at that time, and all the other traditions and what it’s like to be a Kent State student,” athletic director Joel Nielsen said. “We give them a history lesson.”

Last year’s football team was 11-3, won the MAC East Division and lost to Arkansas State, 17-13, in the GoDaddy.com Bowl — Kent State’s first bowl game in 40 years.

“It’s exciting if you look at the overall success of our programs,” said Dennis Watson, director of ticket operations and sales.

Nielsen and Watson mentioned the baseball team, which went to the 2012 College World Series; the men’s golf team, which tied for fifth in the NCAA Championship in 2012; and the men’s basketball team, which has won at least 20 games in 14 of the last 15 years.

“And women’s golf — don’t forget about them — they’ve won 15 straight MAC titles,” Nielsen said.

The athletic department said that it will introduce a rewards system for fans, called Flash Fan Rewards, in August. The system awards fans points for advertising Kent State sports by liking and retweeting social-media posts from Kent State accounts and winning Facebook photo contests.

Fans can win prizes like football helmets, bobbleheads, T-shirts, sideline tickets and lunch with coaches.

Nielsen said Flash Fan Rewards is another medium for publicity.

“We try to make sure we’re maximizing our visibility,” he said.

FLASHperks, a similar rewards system, operates campus-wide and rewards fans for attending games and school events. Watson said freshmen get free T-shirts for signing up.

Kent State encourages tailgating before football games, said Jessica Henderson, mascot coordinator. The school blocks off part of the parking lot for tailgating and that students are expected to bring food and grills.

“Last year, we gave out prizes to the top three tailgating spots,” she said.

Nielsen says that incoming students are coming into a great era of Kent State athletics, and he has high expectations for the future.

“I think it’s a pretty good time to be a fan,” he said. “We’ve come off some of the best years in our history.”

Contact Ian Round at [email protected].