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Friends, fans and fellow Alumni:
My name is Matthew Olivieri.
Not too long ago, Mr. Anthony Rocca of SpartanThunder.com asked me to write him a follow-up story, a sort of "Where are they now?" in regards to myself and Mr. Bradley Villeggiante, the creators of the Spartan Squad.
I was very flattered that Anthony felt this would be interesting piece. And in giving everyone an update on our current status, I thought it would also be the perfect opportunity to share some observations I have made as well as make another big announcement.
First and foremost, Brad and I are in great spirits, both in our health and life in general.
Brad accepted an amazing opportunity to continue his education straight out of SJSU to the other side of the globe. He is currently working towards his MBA at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland. We speak frequently over the internet and he tells me the experience has had a far greater impact on his life than he could have ever imagined.
It is a two year program, so we can all hopefully see Brad again at games come the 2008 season, barring he doesn't end up joining a gang of hooligans. Ha-ha.
I was fortunate enough to find an amazing job as a marketing coordinator for a mid-sized and privately-held company in Fremont.
I currently help manage and implement various operations for three different divisions, the efforts of which correlate to helping the company realize annual revenues in excess of $50 million. I have also taken my GMAT exam and will be applying to six graduate schools by the end of 2007.
I wish to gain acceptance for the 2008 MBA class, and in the meantime, will look to stay busy by conducting a long and in-depth research-analysis report for a company idea I have.
Of course, I also look forward to staying connected to other alumni as much as possible. With that being said, I would like to transition to some observations I have made in my newly acquired "alumnus" status.
As we all know, our Spartan football team went on to win the New Mexico Bowl, capping off an amazing season which saw us beat arch rival Fresno State and even end up with a vote in the season's final AP Top 25 Poll. And there was happiness once again in the land of Sparta.
Alas, it was short lived, because as we looked ahead to the second biggest draw in any Division I-A collegiate lineup, our men's basketball team was already sitting at 1-10 and had lost to C.S. Fullerton 104-77 the same day as the football team brought home the hand crafted New Mexico vase trophy.
"Yikes!" I thought. "Okay, well how is our women's basketball team doing?" It just so happened that the Lady Spartans were also having troubles of their own (on and off the court). It became apparent that it would be hard to sustain the momentum given to us by the efforts of our Spartan football team.
Having been one of the co-founders of the Spartan Squad, (and now a very proud alumnus) you can imagine how it pained me to see the men's and women's basketball teams get off to such a horrific start.
I want to see every sport succeed, but the reality is that these big three teams usually set the tone for how excited the general student population is going be for all the other sports in that semester's line up. (Of notable exception is the women's gymnastics, which has done an excellent job in generating a strong following through a combination of visible and positive athletes, to student interaction, as well as consistent winning).
Even though I was disappointed in the men's and women's basketball team play, I was hurt even more still, by how quickly the student involvement, particularly in the Spartan Squad, dissipate over the course of the end of the football season as it (and the rest of the fall sports) transitioned into the basketball season (and the spring semester sport lineup).
Before I get ahead of myself, I would like to note that, in case you were not aware of it, there is a group of 10 current students called Squad Leads (they wear the Blue and Gold striped ties provided by alumnus Ed Mosher) and they truly are the motor behind every organized Spartan Squad gathering or event.
They have meetings together, organize thoughts and feelings on the best ways to reach out to their constituents, flyer around campus, set up tables with information, sign up new students, and tirelessly try to remind everyone what the real ideology behind the Spartan Squad is all about.
They encourage students to memorize the fight song and always be proud to be Spartan, even in times of peril. They do not condone swearing or throwing stuff at opposing teams. Nor do they support any of the other malicious and immature acts made by the few deviants to fall through the cracks of the admissions offices at SJSU.
In fact, they try to do just the opposite and make students understand that their college time, right here at San Jose State University, can give them exactly the same type of sacred and everlasting memories, that students from Cal, Stanford, and dare I even say Santa Clara, boast about. They want all students to understand that these four years (or five in my case) should be the best of your life.
In order for that to happen, students need to be involved in as many activities as possible outside the classroom. Whether it's Greek life, debate club, poetry reading nights, etc., all students should try to embrace as many different facets of the college experience as possible.
In the Spartan Squad, students can have the fun and everlasting memories of banding together through unity and pride to root on all their sports teams to victory over our hated rivals!
The Squad, as well as the aforementioned other extra curricular activities, is what will ultimately offer that well-rounded experience any student can be proud of.
That is the M.O. the Squad Leads are challenged to uphold, and it is important that everyone understand that is their main purpose.
With this, I would like to move onto my big announcement.
So in witnessing this "drop-off" of involvement take place in the Spartan Squad attendance, I had to ask what I could do to help.
In my frequent talks with them, the Squad Leads have reiterated the following uphill battles they currently face:
1.Convincing those students who only look at the Spartan Squad as a way to get a free t-shirt, to believe in the real ideology behind the Squad.
2.Maintain and uphold the proper image and reputation of the Squad, especially after one of few rebels do something stupid in a Squad shirt and everyone becomes shocked and disappointed.
3.Continuously try to improve on previous efforts made, so the Spartan Squad can keep gaining notoriety, popularity and respect (especially at our rival schools).
4.Of course, continue to attract students to come out in drones, even when the teams continue to lose.
Squad Leads have to try to do all these things while still attending classes, maintain boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, part-time jobs, etc.
At the same time, alumni (like me) either stand up and cheer at a large crowd of Spartan Squad or snicker and sneer at a smaller sized one. Maybe some alumni are too busy to help. But I am willing to bet others are not.
In fact, I am willing to further bet that several alumni would love the opportunity to help these leaders of the Spartan Squad (and lets-face-it, the future leaders of our community) succeed in their efforts. You would love to offer your wisdom and resources so they can achieve their No. 1 purpose for existence in their role as a Squad Lead.
Well, now you will have that opportunity.
I was recently invited to attend one of Squad Lead's privately held meetings. I asked them how they felt about an Alumni Advisory Board idea I was kicking around in my head.
I explained that the easiest way for it to be successful (so that the maximum benefit could be obtained by all parties involved) would be if the functionality of it was exactly the same as in any company business model.
They asked several good questions and in the end came to an agreement as a team that an Alumni Advisory board was the right move. In their desires to get this board started right away, they asked me to help spread the word on the agreed upon guidelines in which this new Spartan Squad Alumni Advisory Board (SSAAB) would be founded:
•10 Alumni will be invited to join by the Squad Leads.
•The Squad Leads will decide on the term length of which everyone will be allowed to sit on the Alumni Advisory Board.
•The Squad Leads can hire and fire someone off the Advisory board as they see fit at anytime for any reason.
•A minimum of two meetings will be held per semester. Other special meetings may be called to order at the Squad Leads request, and it will be at the sole discretion of the alumnus any additional time and resources they wish to volunteer.
•No monetary requirements will be required on the part of the alumnus.
•Final say in all affairs will remain with the Squad Leads. They may call upon any member for recommendation and/or guidance at their own discretion, but absolutely no decisions on how to run the program will be made by anyone on the Advisory Board.
•In order to qualify, you must have graduated from San Jose State University (Either Undergraduate or Graduate degree).
Again, the purpose of the Spartan Squad Alumni Advisory Board (SSAAB) will be just that: To Advise.
Through this medium, alumni of any age who truly care about the affairs and direction of the University at the student level; in this particular case, through the leaders of the biggest sports booster club on campus, will have an opportunity to offer their insight to these young leaders at SJSU.
Finally, in championing along the concept for this board, I wanted to be able to allow interested alumni the opportunity to interact with these student leaders.
They desperately desire change and want the opportunity to be strongly associated to the alumni who feel the same way. Currently, these student leaders do feel disconnected from the like-minded alumni and that is something I feel I have the power to help change.
The Squad Leads have given me a list of individuals that they would like to be invited to join this inaugural group of the Spartan Squad Alumni Advisory Board (SSAAB).
If you are one of these people, you will receive an invitation by email soon. In the meantime, if you are an alumnus and this is something you might be interested in, please email me your full name, contact information (including cell phone or home phone number), as well as a statement as to why you wish to be a part of the inaugural founding of the Spartan Squad Alumni Advisory Board (SSAAB): email@example.com.
I will forward your request along with the year you graduated and to the Squad Leads for their decision.
Thank you for your time and as always GO SPARTANS!