The Tribune sat down with Red Thunder Co-Founder Monika Fabian for an interview on the group and its plans.
What is Red Thunder?
Red Thunder is McGill’s varsity sports fans club. We have a deal with athletics that members [get a shirt and bracelet for $25 that grants them access to] any varsity game for free throughout the year. It’s a great place to meet friends, and you get drink deals, [and] we have sectioned-off seating in the arena and gym. For specific games against big rivals we host big events, and all the “Thunder Nation” comes to all these events. The first one we had last year, which we expect to do again this year, was homecoming, and it was just a sea of red, crazy, rowdy Thunderites. It was actually the first time the football team won in quite a long time, and a lot of the players put it to the fact that the crowd was just so awesome. The main underlying goal, aside from just having fun and watching sports, is to support the varsity athletes. McGill is often looked at as more of an academic institution than anything else, and people really don’t mention all that much about our athletics which, to be honest, have some of the best teams in Canada.
How successful was Red Thunder last year?
I think we’ve done a really good job, actually. The first event [at the beginning of last year] was amazing. We had 350 members last year, and when we are there everyone knows. We have our noisemakers, and we have Big Bessie, our loudspeaker. Sometime we coordinate with Fight Band. We just have our “sea of red,” as we call it when all our supporters come.
Are there events for people who are interested in school spirit but don’t necessarily want to or can’t afford to pay $25?
This year, it’s going to be a lot more open. I know Gerts really wants to have more of a sports ambience, so Nick Drew [SSMU VP Finance and Operations] and Tom Fabian [SSMU VP Internal] will be showing things like Monday Night Football. They even painted the walls red and have throwback jerseys. And that will be open, to everyone not just Red Thunder members.
We make almost no profit off of [the fee]. We have to pay the gym $10 per membership, for use of facilities and the drink deals and sectioned off seating. Then the cost of the t-shirts and extras pretty much breaks even. After winter break the cost lowers to $15.
What are your goals for the year?
To increase our number of fans. We hope to get about 600 members this year. We’re launching a clothing line. There will be some throwback shirts and we’re definitely getting some cool new wear to promote. [We want to get] different faculties involved. I think that’s a great way for people who aren’t so into athletics or sports to learn about being a fan and get involved like they wouldn’t otherwise.
I think we’ve pretty much been preaching to the choir. Everyone wants to get involved and be rowdy and be rah-rah McGill! In the end, students at McGill are proud to be here. [Coming to McGill sports games is] a great way to get to know your athletes, a great way to make friends, a great way to promote spirit, and a nice break from the academic side of school.
You can check out Red Thunder’s website at ssmu.mcgill.ca/redthunder. Membership is $25.