About the Blue Crew
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Joining Blue Crew is a very easy process. All you have to do is sign up for Illini Pride and then begin showing up for Women’s Basketball games at Assembly Hall. When you come to Assembly Hall, go in through the Northwest Entrance, check in with one of the chairs and you are all set to enjoy the festivities, all of the great promotions, and some amazing women’s college hoops! If you come to at least 3 games, you will get a free T-shirt!
Prior to the Fall of 2000, Illini Pride bought 50 season tickets a year to women’s basketball games. These tickets were only utilized by two or three individuals at most due to a lack of publicity or involvement between women’s basketball and Illini Pride.
Things changed though when then Illini Pride President Alex Marks appointed Tom Farrell and Ed Leonard to be the first ever women’s basketball sport chairs for the 2000-2001 year. They were determined to make up a new cheering section and spread the word about women’s basketball. Along with the help of fellow Executive Board member Marthe Phelps, they kicked around various names for the cheering section, including names like IRA (Illini Rowdy Association), but finally settled on Blue Crew. Soon t-shirts were ordered and Blue Crew was born in late 2000.
Attendance the first year was sporadic at times, but two freshmen, Matt Shipley and Jason Moore, along with the three aforementioned executive board members attended the games religiously to form the core of the group. Despite being a small group, they made a name for themselves as opposing teams entered Assembly Hall and had to deal with the antics of the students on the sidelines.
The torch was passed from Tom Farrell and Ed Leonard to Matt Shipley and Jason Moore for the 2001-2002 season. Matt and Jason took it upon themselves to help out with women’s basketball recruiting that fall, something that had never happened in Illini Pride except with men’s basketball. Matt and Jason also worked hard to boost attendance levels and succeeded in getting at least double the attendance of the previous year at every game that year.
Jason and soon to be sophomore Bob Danstrom were named Blue Crew chairs for its third season. Early on in the fall, Bob was no longer part of the Illini Pride Executive Board, leaving Jason as sole Blue Crew chair. Coach Grentz for the first time ever met with Jason and other Executive Board members to acknowledge Blue Crew’s support and share her ideas. Blue Crew continued to help with recruiting that fall as had been done the previous year. Jason also implemented a new, more efficient game day check-in for Blue Crew once games began in late 2002. Blue Crew drew about the same numbers to games as it had the previous year. Jason also began the Blue Crew newsletter “Crew News”, and passed out four issues over the last few home games. Blue Crew also strengthened its informal ties with the players to more formal ties by decorating their locker room and giving the players personalized Blue Crew t-shirts on senior day.
In its fourth year, the Blue Crew leadership changed over from Jason to Nicole Fyie and Shannon O’Brien. The year was kicked off with something a little new. Every year the team held pre-season graduation at the Ubben Practice Facility where they were issued their uniforms following the conditioning season. Nicole and Shannon took more control of this, and created a festive environment for the team, bringing in over 50 Blue Crew students for the occasion. Attendance at games continued to be a priority and a steady number of 30-40 members were seen at most games. Blue Crew continued helping in the recruiting efforts and maintained the strong relationship with the team and coaches. The first ever “Krush Night” was held which drew 100+ members for the Michigan St. game.
For its fifth year, Blue Crew was headed by Junior Nicole Fyie, and Senior Jillian Dinkheller. This season saw the first ever Blue Crew mini road trip, as several members took the drive to West Lafayette, Indiana and watched the Illini battle the Purdue Boilermakers. The addition of costume nights gave fans an added incentive to go wild and crazy at the games and raised the level of spirit in Assembly Hall.
In its sixth season, Junior Kolbe Kasper and Sophomore Jason Kaye headed the Blue Crew. Several members worked toward the second roadtrip, this time defeating the Wildcats of Northwestern. This was also an exciting as Illinois was awarded the Big Ten Superfan Cup Award with a 71 percent increase in attendence. Overall, it was a good year for the Blue Crew.
The Blue Crew has continued to grow and increase fan attendance at women’s basketball games over the past several years. With Coach Matt Bollant and his spirited team, we are expecting an exciting season for women’s basketball during the 2012-2013 school year!
The women's basketball team finished their season with a record of 19-14. This was an incredible season, since this is their best winning percentage since their 19-12 record in the 2006-07 season. They reached the Elite Eight in the WNIT this year, which was the longest postseason run in school history. They broke records in the Big Ten for steals in all their games (417 total and 234 in the Big Ten) as well as per game in the Big Ten (14.6). In addition, they broke the school record for forced turnovers (773) and attempted three-pointers (634). The Illini are graduating three seniors this year: Karisma Penn, Adrienne GodBold, and Kersten Magrum.