They sit in the south end zone of LaVell Edwards Stadium with their giant head posters, unified chants, amusing costumes and booming cheers. They are the ROC.
The ROC (Roar of Cougars) student section has a big impact on BYU football, and has recently received a lot of praise from coaches and players.
“I am really impressed with our student section,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “They’ve been the best since I have been the coach at BYU, camping out before the games, running into the stadium like the Running of the Bulls, just charging to get their seats. It’s adding a nice element to our home game atmosphere.”
The ROC was formed and used for football at the start of the 2013 season. It was created to group the students together into one area and help them have a more unified voice at the games.
“Our student support is off the chain,” offensive coordinator Robert Anae said. “I have been at other schools where (students) make the game day atmosphere and that is here. I have never seen it this way before.”
Running back coach Mark Atuaia lives close to the stadium and watches student support growing as students camp out days before the game. He said it is touching and inspiring in many ways to see them camped out so early showing support for their fellow schoolmates. The students’ support leading up to game time is much appreciated by the coaches.
“I get fired up just walking into the stadium. You walk in and you go out to warm up and half the student section is filled up,” wide receiver coach Guy Holliday said. “How can you not love it? That means you have great student support and a great fan base.”
The ROC’s effect isn’t just heard on the football field but on social media also. The ROC has a significant presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat and students are thanked all over social media by fans, coaches and players.
Quarterback Tanner Mangum said on Twitter that the ROC motivates the team more than they know. One remote fan said on Twitter that the ROC was so loud during the ECU game it was hard to hear Greg Wrubell on the radio.
The ROC isn’t just a place for students to sit and watch the game. The students do more than that by helping affect the outcome of the game. They help motivate the team with all of their chants and cheers.
“I feel like the ROC sets the tone for and leads the atmosphere in getting loud, being disruptive and making our presence known,” ROC president Josh Brown said. “When the ROC shows up, gets loud, excited and works with the team, we truly can create an environment that is very difficult for any team in the nation to come into and win.”
Appreciation for the ROC continues to grow and spread throughout Utah Valley. A lot of that is due in part to the ROC board members, who help make the game week and game day experiences the best they can be. They spend all week promoting the game on social media with prize drops and news about the Cougars. They plan big events at Brigham Square on campus and come up with new cheers to make the in-game experience the best it can be for students.
Brown said the ROC’s ultimate goal is three fold. The ROC is there to create an in-game atmosphere where it can positively impact the game. It wants to create an enjoyable game day and in-game experience for all members of the ROC and represent the standards of the university.
The ROC’s momentum continues to grow this season even after the ups and downs of the football team. The positive thing is it is not showing signs of slowing down. Win or lose, the ROC never loses the fun, according to Brown.
“Students keep going. You guys are rocking the college football world,” Anae said.