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Prey Nation

UNF basketball fans are looking to a Fort Lauderdale high school for guidance on how to the build school spirit.


Mark Pfefer, a UNF sports management junior, has been going to UNF basketball games since his freshmen year, and he decided this year was the time for him to use his experiences to help the program, he said.


In August, he began organizing a new UNF basketball student fan association, Prey Nation, in hopes of increasing fan attendance to more than just him and his group of loyal friends, he said.


There’s never been an organized fan group since I’ve been on campus,” Pfefer said. “Prey Nation is all about building tradition and creating a better game day experience for students.”


Pfefer has experience that could help determine the success of the Prey Nation — he’s already built a large school’s fan base before. Pfefer started The Lightning Lunatics as a junior at Cypress Bay High School in Fort Lauderdale, which at the time was the highest attended high school in the nation, he said.  


The group eventually grew to over 150 students per game which is the minimum of what Pfefer said he believes UNF could bring in.


“There was little over 6,000 students at my high school when I was there,” Pfefer said. “Considering that there’s over 16,000 students who go to UNF and the freedom that college students have, there should be no reason why we shouldn’t be getting double the number of people interested compared to my high school group.


The group sat in the front row of UNF’s student section at the men’s basketball team exhibition home opener versus Ave Maria Nov. 5. 


Although the blue tie-dye shirts the group will use to identify themselves had not yet arrived, their presence made an impact on the game. 


Pfefer and friends could be heard supporting their team from the bleachers calling out players of the opposing team, screaming during UNF foul shots, mingling with the officials and yelling at members of the UNF Media Relations Department.                                                                                                                                                                       


“We want to create a hostile home-court advantage while remaining only tastefully obnoxious,” UNF Athletic Director Lee Moon said. “I’d rather have to pull people back than have to prod them forward.”


Both Moon and UNF head men’s basketball coach Matt Driscoll said that administration would step in if ever any major disturbances were noticed. After the game, Driscoll and members of the team expressed their appreciation to the crowd in attendance and their support, crediting their support in part for the team’s winning performance.


“We all noticed it and fed off of that,” freshman forward Andy Diaz said during a post-game conference. “Isn’t that when we got on our big run? The crowd was a big factor.”


One thing that the Ave Maria game lacked that will be essential to the success of Prey Nation is the newly permitted ability to tailgate on campus before UNF games, Pfefer said.


“It was disappointing because we’ve been promoting Prey Nation along with tailgating, and it’s an important part of building excitement for the games,” he said.


The tailgate was canceled due to lack of proper security staffing and a scheduling conflict with a concert at the UNF Amphitheater that ended up being canceled. However, tailgating is expected to be permitted Nov. 18 for UNF’s first official home game of the season versus Savannah State.


Prey Nation has a bigger purpose outside of supporting UNF Athletics for Pfefer, he said.


The club’s creator said his aspiration is to use Prey Nation as a launching pad to start a UNF sports management club. Pfefer believes that having Prey Nation, “brought to you by sports management,” would increase the validity of the organization on campus and would help the club provide more organized support for the school’s athletic teams.


However, Pfefer realizes that bringing in more people and growing Prey Nation is something that will take time. 


Prey Nation’s first two meetings in November only drew around 50 people, and around 70 percent of those attendees already knew about the club from the start, Pfefer said.


“When you open a business, you don’t talk about expanding until you start making a profit,” he said.


Part of what this means for Prey Nation is that, for now, their focus is mostly on covering UNF men’s basketball games, Pfefer said. As the club expands, its coverage is likely to as well, he said.


For more information on Prey Nation, visit their Facebook page or look for them leading on Osprey fans at UNF home basketball games.    

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