The Dawg Pound brings its “Banterra Magic” by being loud and proud
November 18, 2022
With the football and volleyball teams coming close to the end of their seasons, and men’s and women’s basketball hitting the ground running at the same time as swimming and diving, the Southern Illinois University Dawg Pound is looking at a full calendar to end the year.
The Pound is the student section at Southern Illinois, which not only packs Saluki Stadium and the Banterra Center to cheer on all of the Saluki sports teams each season, but also travels to away games each year to take the home court advantage away from the opponents.
“The Dawg Pound creates the atmosphere in the Banterra Center during a game. When it comes to being engaged, possession to possession and bringing the true energy, I think that everyone feeds off the Dawg Pound, including ourselves,” said men’s basketball senior guard Trent Brown.
The Pound is run by President Dylan Chambers and Vice President Madison Giltner, who are both juniors. Chambers has been in charge of the Pound since post-Covid 2021, Giltner recently took her position and the Pound has only grown since then.
The focus of the Dawg Pound is to not only cheer on all of Southerns athletic teams, but to help break the barrier between students and student athletes and create a sense of community.
“The Dawg Pound brings a different light to the university, compared to the other 300 organizations, highly because we deal with athletics and students together. We do a lot of things that the other organizations do, like community service and getting involved around campus, but we also have different opportunities thanks to athletics,” Chambers said.
Giltner agreed saying, “Seeing the interactions between students and the athletes because of the Dawg Pound is like there is nothing separating them.”
In the past year, the Pound has given its members the opportunity to travel to an away football game at Northwestern University and to two away men’s basketball games: Indiana State and Illinois State. This is something that sets the Dawg Pound apart from not only the other campus organizations, but other student sections in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“We may not be the biggest crowd in those away arenas, but we’re always going to be the loudest to show our teams that we support them anywhere,” Giltner said.
With men’s basketball playing their first home game of the 2022 season on Nov. 7 at Banterra Center, the Dawg Pound passed their previous season attendance with more than 2,000 students in attendance.
“We want to continue to make history each time we file into that student section for a basketball game,” Chambers said.
The atmosphere in the Banterra Center is brought by the Dawg Pound each and every game. From standing until the Salukis score their first points of each half, to confetti cannons and reading the Daily Egyptian when the line up of the opposing team is read, there is no student section in the Valley quite like the Dawg Pound. These are just some of the things that show the athletes that the Pound has their back.
Traveling to away games is another way the Dawg Pound shows how big their love for Saluki athletics is.
“It makes us feel so supported, it feels like we’re working for something bigger than ourselves that people care about what we’re doing enough to take their time to not only watch our game but come on the road with us just to show us that they support us,” Brown said.
The Dawg Pound doesn’t only affect the players on the court, but also fans in other seats, like season ticket holders sitting on lower levels. The Pound helps the rest of the crowd get engaged with the game.
“If the Dawg Pound wasn’t there, I feel like it would be dead silent in the Banterra Center, we bring the Banterran Magic,” Giltner said.
The Pound was noticeably absent during the Covid year when fans were not allowed in the arena. Brown said it was a drastic change for the team to adjust to.
“With Covid, we had to bring out our own energy every single game. If your body wasn’t feeling the best, it was a quiet gym, it felt like the very beginning of warm ups, but the whole time. It just was not the same,” Brown said.
With a more-than-packed arena for the first home game of the season and the addition of multiple new schools to the MVC, including Murray State, the Dawg Pound has more big things planned for this season. Continuing to make the game experience better for the students is what the Dawg Pound is most concerned about this season.
Coming up, students can expect possible giveaways at big games, the very first Rally around the Pound game to support mental health awareness sponsored by SIH and traveling to more away games.
This winter, the Dawg Pound is excited to continue its tradition of bringing its magic to the Banterra Center each game through their electric, supportive and energetic loyalty to Saluki athletics.
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Sports reporter Joei Younker can be reached at [email protected].