Talking Panthers’ and Atlanta sports with SGA senator Spencer DeHart

Despite growing up a Florida State Seminoles fan, Spencer DeHart is an avid fan of the Atlanta sports teams. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

In the upcoming Student Government Association election, a variety of candidates from different backgrounds, each with different ideas, will seek a victory in order to implement their strategies and improve Georgia State. In some cases, they even want to improve all of downtown Atlanta as a city.

From university-wide president and executive vice president to speaker of the Senate and senators, each position is up for grabs in the elections, which are from March 10-12.

One of the candidates for EVP is Spencer DeHart, who has a burning passion for sports.

Fans in attendance have frequently seen him at Georgia State Stadium. DeHart regularly attends the football team’s home games. In fact, he has not missed one in two years and were it not for ticket prices being so expensive, he would have made the trip to see the Panthers play the University of Wyoming Cowboys in the Arizona Bowl.

“I like to attend them just because you see the impact that student-athletes can have on obviously an athletic view but also [on the] college culture,” DeHart said.

Despite growing up a Florida State Seminoles fan, DeHart loves the Panthers. He has stood with them through thick and thin over the last few years and will continue to do so.

“Obviously, a lot of people like to turn it into a bandwagon, only coming out when the team is actually playing well,” DeHart said. “In terms of college sports, I would say football is my favorite.”

On top of just going to the games, DeHart has had the pleasure of watching some talented football players. When asked who some of his favorites were, he did not hesitate.

“I came here in 2018, so for the first year of football, I’d say [current NFL wide receiver and Panther football alumnus] Penny Hart,” DeHart said. “[Senior quarterback Dan] Ellington has been quite a key player. Aside from that, [sophomore wide receiver] Cornelius McCoy [is] also fun to watch.”

Aside from football, DeHart is an avid fan of the men’s basketball team. He admires what head coach Rob Lanier has accomplished as his first regular season with the Panthers comes to a close.

“Bringing in Rob Lanier has had quite an impact on our team,” DeHart said. “Any time you transition coaches, it’s obviously a struggle to kind of learn the differences of play. I think our team has done an exceptional job trying to transition to Rob’s plan.”

Of course, he remembers when writers said Georgia State would not do well in the 2019-20 season. In fact, the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook picked the Panthers to finish sixth in the Sun Belt Conference. 

But just a few games remain, and as it stands, the Panthers are in a comfortable spot to finish well above what many had predicted. Coming off an absolutely gut-wrenching 79-70 home loss this past weekend against the Georgia Southern Eagles, the Sun Belt Conference Tournament’s first game on Saturday is just four days away. 

DeHart spoke on his admiration for the team being able to maintain an exceptional level of play despite losing key players this past off-season.

“It’s very promising to see our team pick up where they left off even though we transitioned coaches,” DeHart said. “Our preseason poll had us at the very bottom, which was discouraging, but it’s been very pleasant to come out and see them prosper anyway.”

Along with the team as a whole, DeHart has enjoyed watching individuals stand out. His favorite players include junior guard Kane Williams and redshirt junior guard Corey Allen. 

“Our three-point shooting is, of course, great,” DeHart said. “It’s always fun to come out and see us put in one after the other, of course, Corey Allen has played a major part in that.” 

He also acknowledged the change of leadership. Last year, the Panthers had D’Marcus Simonds, Jeff Thomas, Devin Mitchell and Malik Benlevi. This year, a new face of the program emerged and continues making a name for himself.

“We’ve seen a transition in leadership, as last year we lost Malik Benlevi and a couple of other players,” DeHart said. “It’s been really fun to see Kane Williams come out as a top prospect … and take the entire team on his back and push them into the season.”

On top of his beloved Panthers, DeHart loves the Atlanta Braves, Falcons and Hawks. His best memory as a Hawks fan is being able to perform at halftime with them when he was younger. He talked about a particular day when he had the special opportunity to help the team mascot, Harry the Hawk, with entertainment.

“When I was seven years old, I went to a Hawks preseason practice at Georgia Tech, and they had Harry the Hawk come out and do his routine,” DeHart said. “I got pulled out of the crowd to do one. And the person who pulled me out saw that I had potential, so I was a part of the skits in games in 2006-7.”

DeHart’s post-graduate plans do not include anything in sports, college or professional. However, athletics will be something he always holds near and dear to his heart.

“Through my position at SGA I serve on the University Athletic Council, and so it’s very cool to jump into the technical aspects of [athletics],” he said. “I don’t personally see a future job aspect or anything just because of the career plans I have. But certainly one of my favorite past times is sports.”