The UNB Varsity Reds men and women’s basketball teams will soon be hitting the road for the Atlantic University Sport championships in Halifax — and the Red Brigade is following right behind them.
The five-year-old fan club, which is now more than 280 members strong, turned heads at last year’s men’s championship for being the loudest supporters in the bleachers. This year, they’re looking to turn up the volume.
“Our aim this year is to just have as much fun [as last time],” said Jill Pilgrim, who is co-president of the Red Brigade along with Jason Cress.
“We’ve all been looking forward to this year since then, and to be able to go out and support both the women and the men is a huge bonus. I believe the teams will put up an awesome fight and I hope we can get a great crew out to support them.”
UNB’s women’s basketball team clinched a playoff spot this past weekend and will be making their first post-season appearance since 2013. The men’s squad, after suffering a heartbreaking loss to the StFX X-Men in last year’s quarterfinals, is amongst the best in the country this season.
Both the men and women’s championships will take place Feb. 26 to March 1 at Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre. The fan club has tickets available to all UNB games with the exception of Feb. 26 action. Anyone interested in joining the Red Brigade’s voyage — which costs just $25 — can email Jason.Cress@unb.ca or Jill.Pilgrim@unb.ca.
Pilgrim said the atmosphere at last year’s UNB-StFX playoff game was unlike anything she’d ever experienced.
“I’ve been a part of this group for three-and-a-half years now and I never imagined we could bring it as hard as we did at that game against StFX last year during the playoffs,” she said.
“To receive recognition from event organizers for being the best fan section of the weekend after only one game showed just how much of an amazing student section we were.”
For Cress, the Red Brigade’s modus operandi can be summed up in two words: be loud.
“We try to get as many organized chants going as possible, especially at events as large as this,” he explained.
“We keep everything PG but above all else, we want to be heard. Screaming, horns, anything we can possibly do to not only lend our own teams support, but remind the opposing team that we’re in the building and not going down without a fight. If we can alter the mindset of the opponent and provide an advantage for our Varsity Reds, we’ve achieved success.”
Simply put, the Red Brigade is all about getting as many butts into seats as possible to show solidarity for the V-Reds.
“This group all started because of a few die-hard sports fans,” said Cress.
“Going to a UNB game is going to watch top-tier student-athletes doing what they do best. We want to encourage other sports fans to get out and support our athletes — no matter which sports they’re into. We want to get fans into those seats to show the athletes that they have support from their peers.”