With a combined record of 18-4 at home this season the Seward County Lady Saints and Saints certainly deserve a pat on the back from the fans that come to the Greenhouse every Wednesday and Saturday night to watch them play. But, that might cause some bruises on the backs of the Seward County players if they are getting patted by each of the 1400+ people that have flocked to the Greenhouse each night for the Saints and Lady Saints games this season. Through the midway point of the 2013 season, Seward County currently leads the nation in attendance for their Women’s games, and ranks a close second in Men’s attendance per home contest.

The Lady Saints have averaged 1402 fans per game this season through 10 home dates, blowing away the competition in the attendance category. “For 20 years, this community has attended games at Seward County well and is appreciative of the quality of kids we are putting on the floor, the overall entertainment product, and winning every year certainly helps” Seward County Women’s Head Coach Toby Wynn said. The Lady Saints fan base has grown to record numbers in large part due to the connection that many fans feel with the Seward players. Following games in the Greenhouse, you can find the Lady Saint players milling around the crowd during the Men’s games, or taking pictures and signing autographs in the hallways. Seward sophomore Anete Kirsteine said when asked about the Lady Saint crowds “it feels like you are playing in the Olympics when you play in the Greenhouse.” The Latvian born sophomore also said “the pressure during your first few games is so heavy because you have 1500 people watching you. But when you get comfortable playing with all of the fans that are pulling for you, it makes it hard playing at some other places when there are only 200 people there.” The Lady Saints largest home crowd of the 2013 season thus far came in their conference opener on January 5th when 1950 fans converged on the Greenhouse to watch Seward take on Jayhawk West rival Barton. Seward has four more Jayhawk West Conference home dates in the 2013 season and the possibility of up to two Region VI Tournament playoff dates before the end of the 2013 campaign.
The Saints Men’s team ranks second nationally in attendance this season. Seward has averaged 1421 screaming fans per game through 12 games in the Greenhouse. “Our fans give us such a home court advantage” Saints Head Coach Bryan Zollinger said. “It gets so loud in there during close games and our players really feed off the support” he continued. Seward packed in 2100 fans Saturday night for their Jayhawk West game against Butler, a game in which the Greenhouse decibel level rose significantly during the final moments of a 71-67 Saints win. In past years, crowds for the Men’s games have tended to die off as the games went along, with the Lady Saints drawing more than the Saints each of the past three years. That trend has changed through recently as a new group of crowd pleasers have found their way onto the Seward roster. One player that Greenhouse fans will certainly never forget with his 6 ’10 frame and colorful personality is Edson Avila. Now a sophomore and a fan favorite, Avila introduced himself to the Seward faithful during last season’s Basketball Preview Night, flying high over a pair of mesmerized youngsters in a Superman cape for a slam dunk during the nights dunk contest. The big man one-upped himself this season when he ‘hid’ in the crowd disguised as an elderly woman before gingerly walking down the stairs and throwing down a two handed slam in the contest. “It is great to be in a place where everyone knows your name” the highly recruited forward said. “To walk out of the locker room and see everyone standing and getting ready to watch us put on a show, really gets us hyped for the game” he continued. The Saints will have a chance this season to break the 25,000 fan mark for a season. They will need an average of 1,837 per game to do it during their four more regular season home games or could help their chances of sneaking by the mark with up to two home playoff games this season.
Standing in his perch high atop the Greenhouse floor for the past 29 seasons as the Seward County Athletic Director, Galen McSpadden has had a pretty good view of the crowds that have come in and out of the Greenhouse throughout the course of time. “It just makes us very proud to see that the community thinks this much of us year in and year out” McSpadden said. “We haven’t always had the best teams, but we nearly always have the best support” he continued. “It is funny to see the looks on people’s faces who think Liberal is just a little old town out in the sticks before they come into the Greenhouse and see the turnout we get for our games” he said.
Seward will return home to the Greenhouse on Wednesday, February 6th when they host Colby at 6:00 & 8:00.