KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A sold-out crowd at Lawson Ice Arena is expected Friday night when Western Michigan hockey will host Colorado College, with the student fan group organizing a Green Out to support the students of Michigan State University after Monday’s shooting.
WMU senior and Lawson Lunatics member Brendan Kuiper has personal ties:
“I have family that went there, friends that are there,” Kuiper said. “It’s right down the road from me. My parents live in that area, so whenever I go home, State is five, 10 minutes away. (It’s a) beautiful campus; I love it when we’re on it. And it really hits home for me, for sure.”
It’s the same for fellow senior and Lunatic Zach Taylor.
“I’ve had family that has gone there. I had a grandpa that graduated from there. I have a lot of friends from my hometown,” Taylor said. “Just this happening an hour and 20 minutes up the street from here is just gut-wrenching.”
Kuiper’s cousin, a freshman at MSU, was hiding in a dorm just across the street from the shooting.
“Just knowing that she was there and not really knowing what was going on, it was a really tough situation,” Kuiper said. “But thankfully, at the end of the day, she was alright. She’s shaken up, I’m pretty sure. So she was on my mind a lot that night, that’s for sure.”
Kuiper and Taylor have made Friday night’s game a Green Out theme. Fans are encouraged to wear green and even yell it.
“After the moment of silence, I’m going to start a ‘Go Green, Go White’ chant, which I don’t think it’d ever be done in Lawson’s history. But I figured tonight would be a good night to do it,” Kuiper said. “I’m hoping other people bring signs, too, that say #SpartanStrong. That would be great.”
“We care for our neighbors that are not that far away from us,” Taylor added.
“When they came to us with this, of course, we were incredibly supportive,” said WMU athletics director Dan Bartholomae. “We did do a recognition and a moment of silence at our men’s basketball game this week (and) our women’s basketball game. We’ll do the same thing tonight at hockey and of course encourage in support of what the (Lawson) Lunatics are doing with the Green Out and looking forward to being a part of that.”
Kuiper said the theme is to rally around their family.
“We’re brothers and sisters in this world. What happens to one of us, we’ll all feel it. No matter what happens in life, we’re always going to be there for each other, through thick and thin. And that we love you — that’s the real message I thought people needed to really start thinking about,” Kuiper said. “Love is a powerful thing. No matter where you go to school, where you’re from, we just got to love each other. Spread that love through sports, through just anything you do. That’s the message we want to give: We love you guys and we’re here for you.”
The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.