Passion for Quinnipiac Athletics extends years after graduating

February 14, 2023

Photo of Jonathan Mendez in front of the M&T Bank Area

Jonathan Mendez ‘22 has cheered on his beloved men's ice hockey team as they took on Yale every year since 2017 — and he doesn't plan to stop as an alumnus.

No. 1 nationally ranked Quinnipiac will take on ECAC arch-rival Yale at 7 p.m. in front of a sold-out home game. Mendez will, of course, be there.

Throughout his time at Quinnipiac, he could be found just behind the glass in the front row of the student section near the Teletubbies, always holding his trusty whiteboard.

It sowed seeds of some of his best memories at Quinnipiac — including when he played "Rock, Paper, Scissors" with opposing coaches as they walked to their bench.

“It’s always a great time seeing players and coaches react to the signs we write," he said. "The more I brought the whiteboard, the more people started loving it."

Mendez decided to enroll at Quinnipiac after cheering the men’s ice hockey team on to the national championship in 2016 with his brother Stephen Mendez ‘17 and future sister-in-law, Kenisha McFadden ‘16.

“I have attended every single men’s hockey home game at Quinnipiac during my undergraduate years — easily more than 70 home games," he said, adding that he enjoys more than just Quinnipiac men's ice hockey. "And probably more than 60 games of men’s and women’s soccer, women’s hockey and both men’s and women’s basketball.”

The Long Island native’s commute to the games as an alumnus involves a bit of commitment — taking nearly three hours by car and ferry. But for him, it’s about more than just the game.

“Supporting the athletic programs at Quinnipiac creates a great sense of pride, spirit and community," he said. "It is something special to be able to watch peers compete and succeed."

As an alumnus, Mendez recognizes the impact all Quinnipiac sports have had in his life.

“It’s definitely hard to make every game now but I definitely plan on attending as many games as I can in the future," he said. "I hope to bring my kids to games someday. There are only a couple of major sporting events that are a staple in collegiate sports and the Battle of Whitney Ave is definitely one of them.”

Mendez recalls his first game at Quinnipiac.

“My friend and I were the first ones of our group to go on the shuttle from Mount Carmel to York Hill to secure a row for the rest of our group," he said. "We chose one in section 109, a couple of rows behind the Teletubbies. During that game, our row was actually chosen for the free pizza giveaway,” said Mendez.

During his senior year, Mendez set out to cheer on every sporting team at least once — and, as an orientation leader, “when one of my first years was on an athletics team I would go to their sporting events to support them,” he added.

It was never enough to just attend a game, he always had to help cheer on his fellow students.

It's for that reason, he would line up as early as 5 a.m. to get his preferred general admission student-section seat at the annual game against Yale.

“We bought a tent, sleeping bags, air mattresses, feet- and hand-warmers; everything you need for camping,” he said. "It was very cool to watch the sunrise over York Hill.”

Throughout the morning, Public Safety officers checked on him as well as staff and athletes that arrived at the sports center.

“Some staff and coaches offered us breakfast and coffee,” Mendez said, who added that Head Men's Ice Hockey Coach Rand Pecknold stopped to take a photo with him.

His support as an alumnus doesn’t stop in Hamden.

“When the team is away or if I'm not able to attend, I have purchased an ESPN+ subscription to watch from home," he said.

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