Boo Rowan! Everyone has screamed it during at least one game between Rowan University and the College and some have even emblazoned the backs of their T-shirts with the catch phrase. The College’s athletic rivalry with Rowan University may be one of the strongest and most widespread on campus.
“It’s always been because of geography,” Athletic Director Kevin McHugh said. “But the rivalry’s really grown in the last 10 or 12 years.”
The College’s match-up with Rowan has not been in existence for long though. The College was founded 150 years ago while Rowan has only been in existence for 75 years. A variety of influences have caused the hyped competition between the two schools but one main reason is that both schools are competitive in almost every sport in which they participate.
“They’re the only other school in the conference with a well-rounded athletic program,” McHugh said. In last year’s final standings, Rowan and the College finished with a difference of two places in eight of 14 sports. Of those, the College won the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) in eight sports while Rowan took first in four.
Junior guard on the College’s women’s basketball team Alexa Shields agreed. “Both schools are generally pretty good in most sports,” she said. “That makes for great competition and a hardcore rivalry.”
This past week, women’s and men’s soccer, field hockey and football all competed against Rowan. Rowan won three of the four match-ups. Women’s soccer came out on top 2-0, men’s soccer lost 2-0, field hockey lost 2-1 and football suffered a 35-20 loss in front of full house on Friday night. The Lions have only defeated Rowan once in the past six years.
The crowd in support of the Lions spilled out onto the pavement between the bleachers and the snack stand due to lack of enough seating. Fans painted their bodies blue and gold, designed T-shirts that said “I don’t root for TCNJ, I boo Rowan,” and of course screamed “Boo Rowan” in unison at every chance they could get. To prepare for the annual match-up, the Lions football pre-game party was held in the Rat right before the beginning of the game. A $5 cover charge provided free food and a pom-pom to bring to the game.
“Football, basketball and swimming all have a really strong rivalry with Rowan,” Shields said. “Fans come out of the woodwork for these sports and really show support for all three.”
“I have proudly worn a ‘Boo Rowan’ shirt to a football game and I intend on wearing it to any TCNJ vs. Rowan contest,” Shields said.
Some former students even created a Web site dedicated to “boo Rowan.” However, the Web site was eventually dismantled due to inappropriate content.
For many athletes at the College, games, matches or meets against Rowan have been some of the most memorable in their collegiate career.
“After four years of playing soccer for the College, I have never been to a game more emotionally charged than a game versus Rowan,” senior goalkeeper Rich Adams said. Adams recalled the Lions’ 1-0 victory over the undefeated Profs in the 2002 men’s soccer NJAC semi-finals as one of his favorite Rowan memories.
“They thought they had us beat,” Adams said. “Instead we upset them 1-0 in front of all their fans. Beating Rowan never felt so good.”
Shields recalled a similar circumstance in which the men’s basketball team played on Rowan’s home court in the NJAC semi-finals last year. However, the Lions ended up losing 84-74 to the Profs.
“A bunch of people from our school piled on a bus and drove there to support the guys,” Shields said. “We sat right next to the Rowan fans and heckled eachother the entire game. It got pretty heated by the end.”
No matter what school it is or what division it’s in, rivalry always adds a little something extra.
“Rivalry is what’s neat about college sports,” McHugh said. “It adds importance to every game.”
And for this school, it is the mere mention of Rowan that incites the crowds and cheers. Whether it’s football or swimming, a regular season game or the NJAC finals, the Profs and the Lions will always have something on the line – Pride.