By: Dylan DeWitt
There are more than enough traditions in college athletics. Whether it be a tradition done prior to the contest, during, or perhaps afterwards, college sports continue to showcase traditions from all different directions.
In Croy Gimnasium, a tradition after all home men’s basketball games was started in 2011 at the University of Findlay. When Coach Charlie Ernst became head coach of the program, he was looking for a chance to give back to the fans who continued to show full support. With that being said, “Ernst’s Esteem” was created.
Prior to gaining the position of head coach, Ernst was the assistant basketball coach at Findlay for 19 years. Throughout all of those years, Ernst watched fans give all their emotion and support to the team at games.
“I had been an Assistant Coach at UF for 19 years and had always felt like we never could thank our fans for their support if the season ended on the road in the post season,” said Ernst. “After some thought, I decided to thank the fans for their support after every game so that they truly knew the impact and appreciation that our program has for them.”
After every home game, the coaching staff and players walk through a line of fans exchanging hugs and handshakes sharing their gratitude of support. Coach Ernst touched on what it meant to him and the rest of the team.
“First and foremost, our players enjoy the interaction with fans and personally getting to know them,” he said. “I think it’s what makes small college basketball special – the access that fans can have with the athletes. When you feel like you know someone personally, you support them with passion and with loyalty through good times and bad.”
The tradition is one that seems to grow more and more too. In many sports, more often than not, fans will leave before the final buzzer goes off when the outcome becomes clear. However, not the fans of UF men’s basketball.
This is apparent to Ernst as well. “Many fans will stay till the buzzer sounds so that they can visit with the players after the game even if it is brief they will stay regardless of the score,” stated Ernst.
From families or season ticket holders, the student body, to first-time Findlay basketball viewers, the tradition is growing as Ernst career moves forward.