Dan Gardner waited outside LaVell Edwards Stadium for two hours before he got to enter and find a seat in BYU’s student section, the ROC (or “Roar of Cougars”). He had arrived at the stadium four hours before that.
Gardner is one of many fans who are willing to devote a lot of time and energy to BYU athletics. The sophomore pre-management major from Salt Lake City joined his fellow fans in showing up for the Cougars, and ROC fans have been showing up for their Cougars all over campus at different sporting events this fall.
This dedication brings to mind the three-word theme of BYU football: tradition, spirit, honor.
Some students have ROC passes and attend games because of the BYU sports fan-ship tradition in their families and communities. To them, cheering on the Cougars is part of their BYU experience.
Heather Anderson, a freshman from Dallas, Texas, said she bought a ROC pass because her family told her that going to games and matches is “the thing to do in college.”
Family tradition seems to be the reason for a lot of the fans that comprise the ROC section at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Freshmen Tanner Peterson from Eureka, Montana, and Baylee Hasleton from Alpine, Utah, grew up watching Cougar football, so it was a given that they would buy a ROC pass when they got to BYU this fall.
“I’ve always come to BYU football games and I love them. I wanted the BYU freshman experience,” Hasleton said.
Junior Sam Spencer from Logan, Utah, has made BYU athletics a tradition of his own. He almost didn’t buy a pass, but knew he would regret the decision.
According to BYU athletics marketing assistant Brian Fagan, organizing the ROC was an attempt to consolidate school spirit. Fagan said the marketing team wants to build an atmosphere that will encourage and help the athletes at all games, home or away.
“BYU has one of the most passionate fan bases in the country, and organized into a branded student section, [it’s] starting to really make an impact at all home sporting events.”
Fagan said that both players and coaches have made positive comments about the ROC.
BYU student Becca Allen said the atmosphere in the organized student section helps fans to spread school spirit.
“It’s like the spirit of BYU. When you get us all together it’s just really neat,” said the sophomore from Madisonville, Kentucky.
Allen said she likes the student section because while there is definitely an outpouring of school spirit, she can choose what level of craziness and dedication to get involved in.
“It’s pretty fun. There are the crazy ones in the front, you know, who just go nuts so that’s pretty neat to watch, and if you’re down there in it it’s fun, but I like how there are different sections in the ROC so if you don’t want to get down there in that little crowd you can just enjoy yourself at the top.”
Spencer described that atmosphere at football games with a similar view.
“Everyone’s really passionate, especially, you know [now that] we’re having a good season, so you can really feel the spirit of the game,” he said.
Finally, what would the BYU student section be like without the honor code? BYU students Terra Wonderli and Camille Ensign, both freshmen from Salt Lake City, agreed with each other that the atmosphere in the ROC is likely much cleaner than student sections at most universities.
So while Bronco Mendenhall may not see “tradition, spirit, honor,” on his team’s jerseys as he planned for the 2013 season, he can look into the “Roar of Cougars” section and see “tradition, spirit, honor” on the faces of loyal fans.