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Baseball: Darlings share pride with baseball team

Darlings share pride with baseball team
Daniel Mingea III
Sports Editor
Courtesy The Vermilion, Feburary 20 2008
 
Rebecca Hymel, President, Diamond Darlings.
 
Renee Judice, Past President, Diamond Darlings
Collegiate sports have always been a major attraction around the nation. Season after season, fans from all over the country make pilgrimages to various campuses to witness their team participate in showdowns inside of gymnasiums, gridirons and on top of diamonds.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s (ULL) baseball team is a week away from hosting its first home game of the 2008 college baseball season at M.L. “Tigue” Moore field. Depending on the poll, the Cajuns are ranked anywhere from 28th to 33rd heading into the 2008 collegiate baseball season. With that said, the Cajuns were atop another poll as well.
Last year, the attendance at the “Tigue” ranked 24th nationally, beating out many South Eastern Conference (SEC) teams. The Cajuns’ ability to fill the bleachers was a reflection of their success on the diamond as well as the support it received from its “pep squad”, the Diamond Darlings.
The Diamond Darlings is an organization which was created in the early 1990’s. The “Tigue’s” sweethearts currently consist of about 40 girls that serve as a hostess group for the ball park. Girls willing to commit themselves in support of the ULL baseball team as well as its fans.
“We have an application on the RaginCajuns.com website for anyone interested in becoming a member,” former Diamond Darlings’ President Renee Judice stated. “It is listed under the fans tab as Diamond Darlings. We also have a copy of our constitution on there which states the requirements and duties of our members. The application process is open to any current, female, ULL undergraduate student that possesses at least a 2.5 G.P.A. We select our girls early in the fall semester around mid-September because we have to have our girls organized by the fall World Series.
“It’s definitely volunteer service,” Judice added. “We do not get paid anything. We are a non-profit type organization. Our uniforms are sponsored and our funding for the treats and decorations is currently being funded by the baseball team. They kind of give us a little budget because we do not have our own funding coming in just yet.”
“Last year is when we became an (official) school organization, so it is in the works to have fundraising for our club to earn money for ourselves, but that takes time,” said current Diamond Darlings’ President Rebecca Hymel. “Eventually, we want to start doing things with the team to help raise money for us so that way we do not have to ask the baseball foundation for any money. We want to become self-sufficient. For example, we are trying to get a calendar made to be able to sell at the 2008 fall World Series. We could collect the profits from that and then we would be able to buy the supplies we need on our own.”
Being a member of the Diamond Darlings is more than just having a cute smile and a pretty face. It requires hard work and dedication. The amount of work involved is more than a fan would imagine.
“Right now, we have about 45 girls,” said Judice. “We would like to have about 60-65. Last year, we had around 20 members, but only about 10 to 12 of us actually lasted throughout the entire season. Because of that, every girl ended up working every single game and that put a lot of stress on our organization which is why we would like to increase our numbers. We are involved in every home game and it is not fair to ask 10 girls to come to 30 something games. If we had 60 girls, then we would only require them to work 2 or 3.
 “Before the games we are out there welcoming fans into the ball park and helping them to their seats,” Judice continued. “We sell programs, media guides and are also in charge of the fifty-fifty raffle. We help with on field promotions such as the John Deer tractor race as well. On Sundays, we help in getting the kids who are at the game onto the field to sing the National Anthem with the ULL players. We do not organize the birthday parties at the park, but once the birthday guests arrive, we take care of them. We also decorate the locker room for the team before its home series’ games and we create treat bags for the players before their road trips to help boost their moral.”
The intent of the Diamond Darlings is obviously not for fame or fortune. Instead, next to boosting the baseball team’s confidence, their primary focus is on inviting the ULL student body to the “Tigue”. No matter the sport, support from students is vital to any collegiate team.
“Our goal for this year will be to try to increase the student fan base at the baseball games,” Judice informed. “We have a great fan base. We are 24th in the nation in attendance which is ahead of a lot of other schools. We have a good student turn out, but it is not a great student turnout. The student turnout which we have is disbursed throughout the park. One of the biggest things we are implementing this year is the student section. It will be on the first base side on top of the visitor’s dugout in section A.
“Because our baseball team is already recognized by many as being good, opposing teams are probably a little nervous before the game even starts, but we want them to come out of the dugout during the game and see that student section and go holy crap, Hymel exclaimed. “We want them thinking not only are we up against a really good team, but we have these students behind our backs that are going to be heckling us the whole time.”
The Vermilion, February 20, 2008