Student initiative creates dedicated student section at Oglethorpe athletics events

Looking for a few friends to cheer on the Stormy Petrels at the next home game? Thanks to the rallying call put out by a new student organization known as the “Oglethorpe 6th Man,” a newly-formed student section in the Dorough Field House is brimming with school spirit and a dedicated community of OU athletics fans.

Oglethorpe students Cooper Wilson, Alex Steckler, Eli Cousins, Evan Matela, Willem Jaon and Neal Nankani

Oglethorpe students Cooper Wilson, Alex Steckler, Eli Cousins, Evan Matela and “6th Man” co-founders Willem Jaron and Neal Nankani

Formed by first-year student-athletes Neal Nankani ’26 and Willem Jaron ’26, “Oglethorpe 6th Man” is a student initiative aimed at creating community around OU athletics. After hearing that students often felt nervous to attend games on their own, Nankani and Jaron created the organization to ensure that not only student-athletes could feel the support of the OU community, but the fans themselves as well.

“We have people that show up to some of the basketball games that have never been to a basketball game in their life,” says 6th Man member Evan Matela, “and they’re showing up just to be in this group of students that they’re friends with.”

Through concerted efforts to support athletics, the founders believe that school spirit will carry over elsewhere as well.

Oglethorpe 6th Man has rallied students to attend men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and lacrosse games so far this year. The organization spreads further awareness of athletics events through Instagram, where they’ve amassed more than 200 followers.

“We just developing a culture here, the initiatives we’re taking to develop it is in the right direction, for sure,” says Jaron.

The 6th Man founders have reiterated that, while anyone can become a member of the new organization, membership is not required to join the burgeoning collective of Stormy Petrels athletics fans.

“If you’re there supporting the school in any way you can, then you’re a part of our community,” says Nankani.

Oglethorpe 6th Man founders Neal Nankani ’26 and Willem Jaron ’26 along with OU student Neal Nankani were recently interviewed about forming this organization on the most recent episode of “The Stormy Petrel Times” podcast, hosted by OU student Ashleigh Ewald ’25. The episode is called “Petrel Nation’s Spirit Restored through 6th Man Initiative.”

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