Unless you follow college basketball or live in the state of Florida, you're slightly oblivious to the existence of the small school in Fort Myers called Florida Gulf Coast University. FGCU is a small school with all the sports that you could dream of, whether it's NCAA or club-level, like the hockey team that we have.
Our school has two hockey teams - a Division III team and a Division II team with the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). The Division II team currently holds four National Championship titles, including two back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019, making our school ranked second in the southern region of the ACHA and heading back to nationals for this season.
All of this doesn't seem important or really make the school a hockey school, but let me tell you, it really does. Games are every Friday and Saturday nights at the rec rink that's a mere five minutes down the road from the campus and right next to the local ECHL team's arena. The parking lot is typically packed with parents for the rec teams that play at the rink and fans for the ECHL team when they are playing. The rink is always packed on game days - at the first game of the season, my friends and I who went to the game had to stand on the stairs to watch because tickets are free for students. Students who go line the boards and fill the seats, clad in jeans and sweatshirts (because no matter where you are in the rink, you're going to be cold). Once the puck drops and the game starts, everyone is all-in. Yelling and screaming fills the rink while people who are lined against the boards slam their hands on them to get the attention of the other team. Others yell when players get smacked into the boards and when calls are missed that definitely should have been called.
At the end of the day, whether the team wins or loses (even though we typically win), the student body that goes to the games and supports the team come together and have a common bond that's better than our basketball team. Most people on our campus talk about the hockey team and wear shirts that support them more than anything in this world. Our campus is a hockey campus, and I'm proud to be a part of it.