NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- Anybody who follows sports knows that fans come in all forms and attitudes. Some can often be unfriendly, but a group of Old Dominion supporters strives to be the exact opposite.
It all began during the 2018 football season, when ODU fan Mike Langston noticed a troubling trend among some of the fan base. Negativity, criticism and pessimism were creeping into the seats, so he gathered some of those who he knew took the opposite approach, despite perhaps the Monarchs not being as successful on the field as hoped.
"I grabbed all the people I knew that were positive and loved ODU no matter what," Langston recaled. "If we're fanatics, we're going to act like it and support them win or lose."
"There's enough negativity out in the world, especially on social media," added fellow fan Aaron Zielinski. "Mike identified a number of us who were out there that he thought would come together as a good group."
That marked the birth of The Monarchists, a group of Old Dominion fans from which you'll only hear positivity and support towards their beloved Monarchs. These fans, however, take it a step beyond cheering on their favorite teams in the seats and positive social media encouragement. They've turned the support into a way of helping the silver and blue programs that they love. The latest example is the Dollars for Dingers campaign to support ODU baseball.
This idea came up during the 2021 campaign, when the Monarchs hit a program record 105 home runs. The Monarchists started the campaign by encouraging people to donate a dollar for every homer ODU hit with all proceeds going towards the baseball team. Through that initial effort, the group raised about $10,000.
"If everyone gave a dollar for every home run that was hit, we could help with the program," Zielinski said.
"We didn't expect it to get as popular as it was, but the support was amazing," pointed out Langston.
2022 sees the Monarchs on pace to top that record of 105 home runs. As of Monday, the team had hit 75 round-trippers, good enough for third in the country. Dollars for Dingers is back in full force, as The Monarchists hope to help the program with facilities, improving the amenities for student-athletes and helping with the effort to renovate Bud Metheny Baseball Complex.
"It doesn't have to be a dollar for every home run," Langston noted. "You can do a nickel, you can do a quarter. Whatever you've got, we'll take it."
It's just the latest way the group is helping the athletic department it loves. The fans have raised money for the football program, helped fund student bus trips to the Myrtle Beach Bowl and held a Toys for Tots drive among fans. At the very least, you can expect these fans to be in the stands cheering on the Monarchs, likely thinking up their next way to give back.
"We come together, we can make a true impact to help support the school that we love and the student-athletes that come here," Zielinski said.
"We can sit here and complain, we can sit here and just wait for something to change or we can actually help make a difference," Langston concluded.