By Tracy Haney/Managing editor
Although the team hasn’t played its first game, fans of Eastern football were in full support at Saturday’s first Fan Day.
The event gave students, administrators and the community a chance to meet the players and talk with head coach Danny Hope before an intersquad scrimmage in Roy Kidd Stadium.
“I think everyone coming out is a big deal,” Hope said. “To see the town out here is a big boost to myself and the team.”
According to Athletics Director John Shafer, about 300 or 400 fans were present Saturday.
“It was the first time we had ever (held Fan Day), so we didn’t know what to expect,” Shafer said.
“It was great for our fans and our football team … it gave our kids just as much pleasure as the fans.”
Steve Cassel, of the defensive end, said this year’s football program seems to be the best of his three years at Eastern.
“We’ve got a lot of people out here supporting us, and that’s what I like to see,” Cassel said. He predicts the turnout of fans at Fan Day to carry over into the season.
“All season long, as long as we are doing good, people will come out to support us,” Cassel said.
Hope also predicted big numbers in the stands. He anticipates the Eastern vs. Western Kentucky University home game on Sept. 18 will create the biggest fan turnout Roy Kidd Stadium has ever seen.
“The football team is excited; they’ve got a great attitude,” Hope said.
Along with the team, football enthusiast Vellisa Hensley, a sophomore from Hazard, is also excited about the season and doesn’t plan on missing a home game.
Hensley said she really liked having the opportunity to meet the players during Fan Day and thinks the event will keep growing with each year.
The players “are all really nice to you. It makes you want to come back,” Hensley said of Fan Day.
New to the university and a new fan of Eastern football, James Chapman, provost and vice president of academic affairs, joined Hensley and others, to meet the team before Saturday’s scrimmage.
On top of the players’ athletic ability, Chapman said it was nice to see such an academically diverse group of students.
“We’ve met some good students. They seem like really nice young gentlemen,” Chapman said of the football players.
Long time fans and Eastern graduates, Sam and Anna Gordon have been season ticket holders of Eastern football for six or seven years.
To them, the best part of watching Eastern play is seeing their children, MacKenzie, 6, and Jonathan, 10 months, enthusiastic about the games.
“It’s pretty exciting watching them watch the players,” Sam said, adding Jonathan had just learned to throw his hands up in the air when Eastern scores a touchdown.
Although MacKenzie and Jonathan are too young to be thinking of colleges, the Gordon’s said they would love for their children to one day get the “Eastern experience,” but, for now, the two will continue to enjoy the games from the stands with the rest of the Eastern football fans. Reach Tracy at