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A fan’s eye view of the first ever D.C. Cup
When Tropical Storm Hanna left the D.C. area this weekend, she did so in style. After a long, gray day filled with constant rain, the Sunday sky was blue and cloudless. There was nothing to impede the midday sun from lighting up Howard University’s Greene Stadium, where two of the area’s most storied schools met on the gridiron for the first time in history. The scenery, the history, and the blinding sun were so powerful that they threatened to obscure one of the day’s most important truths:
“It’s two terrible football teams,” Jacob Johnson (Howard `11) said. “When you get right down to it, despite everything, that’s what you have here.”
Johnson’s blunt pessimism might have seemed out of place on such a picturesque day, but one would have a tough time refuting his statement—neither team has had a season over .500 in the last three years, and the two teams combined only had five wins during all of last season.
Jonathan Masserano (COL `10) and the members of Hoya Blue who attended the game were much more optimistic. But when senior slot receiver Kenny Mitchell fumbled the opening kickoff, even they had trouble hiding the cynicism that always follows losing teams.
“I thought to myself ‘Oh no, this is right where we left off,’” Masserano said. “But I guess there’s nowhere to go but up from there.”
Masserano was one of about 100 Georgetown students who took buses across town to the game. Hoya Blue originally sold about 200 tickets, but only half that number could make it on the postponed date.
“All things considered, I think the turnout was great,” Nick Sementelli (SFS ’09) said. “It’s hard to get people excited about games when the team isn’t winning, but I think it is our responsibility to support the team no matter what … We can’t ensure that we will always be able to bring a certain amount of people to the games, but hopefully we bring a little extra spirit that maybe influences the results on the field.”
It was difficult to gauge how much student fans from both schools actually cared about the game. On one hand, the Georgetown crowd was dominated by Hoya Blue—a supporters club not necessarily indicative of the student body as a whole. The Howard students, on the other hand, were more numerous and raucous, but they were never as loud in cheering for the football team as they were when the Howard band played Usher’s “Love in This Club.” Masserano and Johnson also warned that attendance for both teams usually tapers off as the season goes on.
While students are often the focal point of college athletics crowds, part of the D.C. Cup pitch is its importance to the District as a whole. In that regard, it was almost certainly a success.
“God only knows why this game didn’t happen sooner,” Cynthia Rivers of Ledroit Park said. “But now that it’s here, you are already seeing more people from the neighborhood out at the game.”
The overall success of the D.C. Cup won’t be judged until after the four-year series is over. But when Mitchell redeemed himself on his final touch of the game with a 31-yard touchdown reception that gave the Hoyas the 12-7 win, the seeds of rivalry may well have begun to take root in the District.
“We are all coming to Georgetown next year,” John Williams (Howard `11) said after the game. “We don’t go to many away games, but I promise you we will be there.”