Loyal fans of other schools walk the halls of Brigham Young University, among the sea of Cougar blue. Whether a be a fan of an in-state rival or a fan of a school across the nation, each of these students has one thing in common: they still chose to attend BYU.
There are three general types of fan loyalists:
1. The Groundhog fan: Natalie Neilson, a transfer student from Utah State studying family consumer science, came to BYU after marrying a die-hard Cougar fan. Neilson grew up in a family of Aggies.
Coming to BYU wasn’t her first option but since she has been here, she has enjoyed the spiritual atmosphere that BYU brings into her daily life.
She shows her loyalty the most when BYU and USU play each other, which makes her the Groundhog whenever there is a clash of interests.
“I will cheer on BYU if they aren’t playing Utah State, but I will be decked out in Aggie gear when they do play each other,” Neilson said.
Dr. Anthony Sweat, a religion professor from BYU, attended University of Utah for his bachelor’s degree and Utah State for his PhD. He chose to teach at BYU, but he is also the Groundhog fan because he will cheer for BYU except for when they play Utah.
2. The out-of-state fan: Crystal Hill, a sophomore from Florida studying communication disorders, and many other students face the dilemma of deciding between a school they love and BYU because of its LDS association. They are the out-of-state fans.
Hill always planned on going to to Florida State University after her mission. When she decided to pray about it, Heavenly Father told her otherwise.
“It’s hard because I wanted to go to FSU, and I knew I could be a great member of the church and still go to FSU, but the dating scene was really tough,” Hill said.
She ended up getting married her first year at BYU. She still shows her fan loyalty by wearing Seminole gear, almost daily, on campus.
Another example of the out-of-state fan is BYU alumni, Michael McCune. McCune graduated from BYU in 2014, but while he was here, he juggled two of his favorite schools: BYU and Nebraska. When they played at the same time, he set up two different TVs just so he could capture all of the action.
3. The die-hard fan: Some students chose to go to BYU for a very specific reason and they do not plan on cheering for BYU anytime soon. Jonny Hicken, a sophomore from Salt Lake City, grew up as a Utah Ute and he will not change his mind for anything or anyone.
“I’m not the biggest fan of a lot of the BYU sports teams but I am respectful to them,” Hicken said. “I often cheer for the other teams that I like more, even when they aren’t playing Utah.”
He also said he chose BYU for the great academic experience and low price.
These students show their fan loyalty on a different level when a conflict of interest arises.
Professor Sweat said, “I just think students need to recognize the greatness in all universities.”