Da Silva inspires school spirit
Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, January 19, 2012 00:01
It was hard to miss the unfurling of a large banner over the heads of dozens of Southern Miss students in M. M. Roberts stadium's stands every time the Golden Eagles scored this past football season.
The triumphant "Nasty Bunch" banner was inspired and constructed by James Bueno da Silva, a sophomore sports management major from São Palo, Brazil who has coined a new way of showing true school spirit.
By making a commitment to attend all 14 Southern Miss football games, both home and away, da Silva's devoted school spirit lifted the hearts of fans and football players alike.
"I just thought there was something more that I could do to help the team, be there for them," da Silva said. "I'm there to support. I'm shouting every time. I'm there to encourage and try to cheer for the team."
Da Silva said that he made a goal to attend every game of the 2011 season during the third game of the 2010 season. "I was like guys, I'm going to do this. I just kept that in mind, never let the idea die and made it."
In the beginning, da Silva said he was paying to attend games. However, as the season progressed, he began receiving donations to attend away games, as people offered generous contributions.
"When we picked the Hawaii Bowl I thought I really want to go, but there is no way," da Silva said. "But with last minute donations, I made it."
Junior business management major Joe Stieffel said he knew that da Silva could achieve his goal.
"James figured out a way to make it to every game," Stieffel said. "He made friends along the way who only helped him even more to get to other games."
Da Silva kept every football game fueled with a spirit that can sometimes be hard to find.
Da Silva's idea for the large "Nasty Bunch" banner that accompanied him to every game came to being because he felt like there was something more that he could do to promote school spirit among students and fans. Additionally, da Silva said in South America it is customary for fans to fly enormous flags at their favorite teams' games.
While creating the flag design, da Silva researched old Southern Miss mottoes and settled on "Nasty Bunch" because of its aggressive connotation. The banner is twenty-one square feet, 80 percent satin, 20 percent cotton and made entirely by hand. It took da Silva five weeks and a lot of help from eager friends to complete the iconic banner.
"The Nasty Bunch flag has become a banner literally under which almost all of the students can stand together and show support in a way that not only is fun for us, but looks great in a TV shot, too," said John Caleb Grenn, a junior biochemistry major.
Senior psychology and exercise science major Sam Carter said the flag symbolized positive energy for the school and praised da Silva for his hard work.
"He is undoubtedly the best person to be in charge of anything and everything supporting Southern Miss," Carter said.
Da Silva said that he wanted to be the Silva opening of his flag to be "epic," and according to outside sources, it was certainly that.
"I'm usually under the flag, so I don't know how much of a reaction it is," da Silva said, "But friends on the other side said that the first time it came up the whole other section of the stadium, the opposite section just went crazy. The whole stadium was like, ‘Ahhh!' The football players just went nuts is what I heard from my football player friends. They all loved it. It was pretty cool having that reaction for the first time."
Brittney Taylor, a second year graduate student majoring in dietics, said da Silva is the epitome of a true fan and an inspirational person both in the stands and around campus.
"I believe incorporating the banner into the student section gives the students a sense of pride for our school and our football team," Taylor said. "It keeps everyone into the game, and the second the flag gets ready to go up everyone gets extra hyped up. I also believe it does a lot for our football team as well."
Da Silva plans to take his Nasty Bunch banner to as many Southern Miss sporting events as possible, and he hopes to inspire students to be dedicated in supporting Southern Miss athletics.
"James attending every football game last season demonstrates a certain amount of dedication to our football team and athletic program that makes all of us students look at ourselves and ask whether we could put that much into it as well," Grenn said. "In turn, we all at least put a little more ‘umph' into our home game cheering."