South Sarasota County has its own university with the opening of the new University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Instructional Site in North Port, and now they have a place to cheer for their football team too.
The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and the Manatee-Sarasota Chapter will be hosting “Watch Parties” at the Buffalo Wild Wings in North Port for the USF football games. The first will be held on Thursday, October 14 at 7:30 p.m., the night of the USF Bulls versus West Virginia game.
Watch Parties are frequently held by USF Sarasota-Manatee at the Lee Roy Selmon’s on University Blvd in Sarasota when the USF Bulls are playing a football game away from home. The Sarasota event attracts between 60-100 people per game, and Dr. Arthur Guilford, Regional Chancellor of USF Sarasota-Manatee, expects there to be even more for the first Watch Party in North Port.
“We expect a great turnout,” he said. “More than 2,200 USF alumni live in the area from Venice to Port Charlotte, and this is an opportunity for alumni, students, and fans to come cheer on their home team Bulls in South Sarasota County.”
Buffalo Wild Wings Manager George Baker is looking forward to the events as well.
“People in North Port are excited about having a hometown football team to cheer for,” he said. “The partnership we have with USF Sarasota-Manatee is great because it helps bring in business to our restaurant and it gets people fired up about the university. Some of our staff members are even looking forward to finding out more about how to sign up for classes at the event.”
Local businesses aren’t the only ones ramping up their excitement about USF’s presence in North Port. Students have taken notice of the increased “Bulls Buzz” in town.
“The kids in my class are really excited,” said Megan Dandy, an Elementary Education senior who lives in Port Charlotte and takes all of her classes at the North Port Instructional Site. “They’re starting to put more USF clothing in stores, we’re starting to see more USF license plates, and everyone is talking about the Watch Party. It’s good for the community that we have our own university and football team to be a part of and cheer for.”
The Watch Party will certainly offer an atmosphere of camaraderie as the Bulls take on conference rivals West Virginia. Food and drink specials, door prizes including tickets to future Bulls home football games, and USF Bulls decorations will all be featured at the Watch Parties.
The October 14 Watch Party event will be held on the eve of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Grand Opening Celebration on Friday, October 15 at the new North Port Instructional Site on the corner of US 41 and Pan American Blvd.
USF System President Judy Genshaft and Regional Chancellor of USF Sarasota-Manatee Dr. Arthur Guilford will preside over the celebration, which will include a ribbon cutting ceremony, tours, music by the Herd of Thunder Show Band, Rocky the Bull, informational tables and refreshments from area restaurants.
USF Sarasota-Manatee’s south Sarasota County program began in 2004 at the State College of Florida’s Venice location with only 66 student enrollments and has grown to over 600 per semester. In August, USF Sarasota-Manatee’s started classes at the new Instructional Site, which includes four classrooms, one videoconferencing room, six offices and a conference room with room to expand in the future.
The Instructional Site serves residents of Englewood, North Port, Venice and surrounding areas and offers undergraduate degrees in business, social science, elementary education, psychology and criminology as well as a master’s degree in educational leadership.
For more information or to R.S.V.P. for the Watch Party or Grand Opening Celebration, please call Pam Gleason at (941) 359-4603.