Students adapt to the “ROC”

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This summer the Marriott Center underwent renovations to the student section location. BYU students are now adapting to cheering on the BYU’s men’s basketball team in the new seating arrangement that also has a new identity known as the “Roar of Cougars” or the “ROC.”

As students come back from winter break, the first opportunity to participate in the ROC will be Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. when BYU takes on Pepperdine in the Marriott Center.

Earlier this year, BYU announced changes to the Marriott Center. These changes heavily impacted the students because their section moved from the north side to the west side, behind the basket.

It has been a challenging adjustment, creating a lot of frustration for students such as Chris Rostrom.

“The location is not as good,” Rostrom said. “The chairs are not as good. But if it is going to bring more money to the program, then I am excited about that.”

The benches were removed on the north side, the old student section, and were replaced with new blue seats. Season tickets with these seats can be as expensive as $575 and do not run for less than $500. The new chairs come with six to eight more inches of leg room and some padding.

The addition of the chairs changed the capacity of the Marriott Center from 22,700 to 20,900. The number of seats reserved for the students, however, did not change.

The changes have brought about a decrease in ticket price for approximately 75 percent of the seats in the arena. Students will still be able to use their all-sport passes and have seats on a first-come, first-served basis.

Because of the change, BYU has tried to reach out more to the students in creating a better, more identifiable student section through its marketing team.

It is not foreign anymore for students to see props and random faces such as Mitt Romney, Harry Potter, Beauty and the Beast, Bane and many others.

Assistant Marketing Director Bryce Lake talked about the challenges and opportunities the new student section has brought.

“There was a lot of backlash,” Lake said. “But so far it has been a very positive thing. The students love the props. We put a lot of money into making the student section exciting. We want to create a fun, good environment where no matter who we’re playing the students will want to be in the student section.”

Even Head Coach Dave Rose has been noticing the props and has been pleased with the energy of the student section.

“I love our student section,” Rose said. “I love their enthusiasm and how committed they are to helping our team win. The fact that they have embraced that space and are as involved as they are makes me excited for our games in the Marriott Center this year.”

Something else that has aided the student section is a new name for it. The University of Utah has the “M.U.S.S.” (Mighty Utah Student Section), Duke students have the “Camerion Crazies,” Gonzaga fans welcome you to the “Kennel Club,” and now BYU has the “ROC” or “Roar of Cougars.”

Lake said the naming of the student section has been in the works for three years and has gone through hundreds of different names, from “The Handcart” to “Brigham’s Beard,” until finally becoming the “ROC.”

“We did some surveys and panels to get a good idea,” Lake said. “When we decided on the ‘ROC’ we knew there were a lot of songs we could use, and we liked what it stood for. We hope it will instill some creativity and craziness in the students.”

Another attempt to help the students embrace the new spot and bring tradition is the use of an actual rock that the students can touch before the game as they go to their seats and which the players all touch as they come out of the tunnel to start the game.

The rock comes from the base of Y Mount, and Lake hopes it becomes a tradition that lasts.

While the fans are still adjusting, the players have only good things to say about the new section.

“I like it,” senior guard Brock Zylstra said. “The ROC has a lot of different things going on, we got some good fans there that get pretty wild. It will be good.”

Sophomore point guard Matt Carlino talked about how the students have more of a chance to make noise directly to the opposing team because of their position behind the basket.

“It’s a big difference when you’ve got the other team in your ear,” Carlino said.

It’s still too early to see what difference the students will have, but as conference play heats up it may become more apparent just what that difference is.

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