Every time UMBC’s men’s soccer team plays, there’s a wild and lively section dressed in gold where the chants are tumultuous, the school pride is tangible and the numbers on the back of the shirts all say 17. Lot 17 is currently a cornerstone of the structure of school pride here at UMBC, which makes it all the more inconceivable that it has an infantile three year history, having been founded in 2012.
Lot 17 began as a handful of club team players, Ted Tibbert, Matt Elky and Zahary Trout, going out to support the varsity team after pregaming in the titular Lot 17 by the stadium. It evolved into a full fledged fan group, with coordinated chants and a tifo culture.
Though it was originally founded by club soccer players, the support group caught like wildfire and grew quickly, disproving the notion that UMBC lacks school spirit. What was once half a dozen students is now a dedicated section of about 60 at a time and current Lot 17 President Zachary Trout is still preparing for expansion and growth.
Lot 17’s development has been because of two key factors: the recent success of the varsity soccer program and the support group’s accepting environment. “It’s just very welcoming. You don’t have to know soccer or anybody, you can just show up and everybody will be friendly and ease you into it,” said Tim Merryman, a Lot 17 regular who was not a product of club soccer. When you ask Lot 17 members, the word “atmosphere” regularly gets used to describe a very friendly and fun ambience in the stands alongside the fan group.
Furthermore, the fan group is regularly in contact with both the varsity program and sports marketing at UMBC, providing members with opportunities like bus trips and rewards to boost their fan presence. When the bright lights shine on the men’s soccer team, it shines just as brightly on the ravenous supporters. In the College Park match in the playoffs, approximately 150 students showed up as a part of Lot 17, and the cheers silenced College Park’s own support group. In the final four, UMBC’s Lot 17 was the only support group that could be heard on TV and this is coming from the smallest of the four schools in the College Cup.
When UMBC hosts Howard this Tuesday, Sept. 29, Lot 17 will be standing in their usual seats in the stands, cheering the men’s soccer team on with old faces and even welcoming new faces.