HICKORY, N.C. -- More than a thousand Bears fans stood outside the Lenoir-Rhyne football stadium to root on two buses loaded with members of the football team.
"We couldn't be asking for anything more than for the Bears to be going to Alabama. We're just so excited," said Marsha Geniadenk after she purchased some new Lenoir-Rhyne T-shirts at the campus bookstore. "Everybody is just pumped. It’s not just campus but the whole town of Hickory."
The buses are heading to Florence, Ala. for a NCAA Division II title game with the Bearcats of Northwest Missouri State University. This is the first time the Bears will play for national championship game since the early 1960s.
They won a football championship in 1960, and fans on campus and around Hickory said that they are more than ready to see another sign on the walls of the Bears’ stadium, including Becky Sharpe, who works in the Student Life Department. "It's just wonderful," said Sharpe, wearing a Lenoir-Rhyne sweatshirt. "You can just feel it in the air,” she said.
Sharpe said both of her older brother, parents and all four grandparents graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne, and her great-grandfather was the school's first president. Sharpe said she's especially happy for all the hard work the student athletes have done to have such a good season. "I feel so good for all the guys that have worked so hard, all of the students."
The Lenoir-Rhyne Bears game is Saturday at noon.