November 8th, 2011 | Sports

Whaling Crew tries to bring back spirit

The Whaling Crew's logo.
The Whaling Crew's logo. Photo by Facebook.

Maybe you saw them at this weekend’s men’s hockey games: a mass of Yalies, largely freshmen, uniformly clad in navy blue t-shirts with a simple white “Y” on the front in the shape of a whale tail, the words “The Whaling Crew” emblazoned on their back.

Meet the Whaling Crew: started by Andy Ellis ’15, Hal Libby ’15 and Andrew Sobotka ’15, it’s a group of devoted Yale athletics fans trying to build school pride. The Whaling Crew, according to Facebook, is a “unified, organized student group dedicated to yelling too loud and heckling too obnoxiously at Bulldog hockey games”.

After noticing a disheartening number of empty seats at a number of Yale football games, Libby and Sobotka decided to start something to up Bulldog pride. The group takes its name from the Yale Whale, a common nickname for Ingalls Rink, the home of the nationally-ranked men’s hockey team. Originally, they meant to bring more unity and organization to the student section at football games.

“One of our ideas was to call ourselves the Bowl Weevils,” said Sobotka.

But Ellis, Libby and Sobotka decided it was too late in the season to start an organized student section for football. Instead, they set their sights on men’s hockey, in the hopes that school spirit will trickle down to basketball, swimming, and maybe even the less popular sports.

“We know how much fun it can be to be crazy sports fans, and we would like for others to experience that,” Sobotka explained. “It’s way more fun to be a crazy sports fan when there are other crazy sports fans around me.”

The group’s founding fathers started the Crew three weeks ago. They all agree that they never expected this idea to grow so popular in such a short time — once the second shipment of t-shirts arrives, over 10 percent of the freshmen class will officially be members of the Whaling Crew. Interested students can purchase t-shirts through the group’s Facebook page.