By Allyson Dobberteen
Ten years ago, Dawg Pound was a figment in two Butler University students’ heads.
Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Bulldog who doesn’t know of the booming student section on campus at Butler’s athletic events.
Todd Witherow and another Butler student founded the organization back in 2001.
“They found that very few students came to our basketball games,” said Carolina Glenn, a member of the current Dawg Pound executive board. “They sold shirts and discount cards as part of memberships and started to fill our student section.”
Jessica Siegel, a 2006 graduate, was involved in the early years of Dawg Pound as president from 2004-2006. During her time, the group grew from about 500 members to nearly 800.
“Even though it was a down time for Butler basketball, as we didn’t go to the NCCA tournament, people were still excited about the team and the opportunity to be a part of Dawg Pound,” Siegel said. “I definitely saw the atmosphere of Dawg Pound move from more of a calm and complacent group to one that is rowdy and involved.”
Today’s Dawg Pound still prides itself on its raucous roots.
“When the pound is full and rowdy for one of our national television games, I’d put it up against any student section in the country,” said Lindsay Martin, marketing director for the Butler
The members of Dawg Pound’s executive board echoed Martin’s delight in the boisterous atmosphere.
“It gets pretty wild,” senior Rudy Longman said. “It’s loud from start to finish.”
Jake Lemon, current president, said Dawg Pound is always full, loud and rowdy on big game days.
“It’s crazy and that’s the way we want it,” he said. “We like to haggle the opposing team’s players and a lot of them probably don’t enjoy that, but it’s all part of the atmosphere.”
Loren Snyder, a 2008 graduate, said the energy of the Dawg Pound was similar when he was president of the group from 2006-2008.
“During the ballgames we never failed to fill the Dawg Pound section,” he said. “It created a fun environment, and difficult one for opponents.”
In the time that Snyder was president, the organization’s membership continued to grow, going from about 800 members to 1,200. The group also expanded to support additional Butler teams other than men’s basketball.
“I love that there is such a strong Dawg Pound turnout for events other than men’s basketball,” Siegel said. “That used to be a real challenge for us, getting students to come out and support all sports.”
Longman said he has observed the Dawg Pound’s development, even as a young fan.
“I’ve been coming to Butler basketball games all of my life,” he said. “I’ve witnessed the evolution of the Dawg Pound through the years and it’s really grown. Being a fan here is more exciting now than it ever was.”
Junior Myke Van de Voort, a member of the Dawg Pound Executive Board who is currently studying abroad, said in an email that the organization has even changed in the two years since he was a freshman at Butler.
“People have become much more passionate over the years,” Van de Voort said. “We had a lot of passion when I came in two years ago, but now we have more passionate people in the group as a whole.”
Perhaps the most recent change for the Dawg Pound is the transition from being an SGA-funded student organization to a separate entity of the athletics department.
Despite changes in organizational structure over the years, the group hopes to stay true to its fan-based roots and continue to draw students to athletic events.
“Our major goal is ultimately to get as many people as possible to support the Dawgs and continue the amazing tradition of the Butler Way,” Van de Voort said. “I hope that the majority of students look to us on what can be done to create the outstanding environment Butler has for athletics yet still have the great sportsmanship we’re also known for.”