BYU alumnus hosts ‘open tailgate’ breakfasts for students

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Jared Whitlock, second from right, and his group of volunteers serve pancakes before the Arizona State vs. BYU Game on Sept. 18. (Colby Wright)

Generous BYU alumni and fans cooked pancakes for the many students waiting in the ROC line for the BYU football game on Sept. 25.

First seen at the Arizona State vs. BYU game on Sept. 18, these “open tailgates” mark the beginning of a recurring tradition for all BYU football home games this season. 

Many dedicated BYU fans arrive at the stadium hours in advance to guarantee a spot in the ROC student section, but according to UVU student Devin Robins, it is worth it.

“Me and my buddy were pretty dang tired. But it was great, chomping on some pancakes. I loved standing in the student section and going wild!” Robins said. 

Another BYU fan at the open tailgate was Gavin Flint. He said little things like pancakes or other sponsorships and events thrown by alumni are wonderful. “I think the alumni at BYU are top-notch compared to other places,” Flint said. 

The organizer behind this “pancake palooza” is Jared Whitlock, a BYU alumnus and an active member on CougarBoard. He said the idea to serve food came one morning when he viewed a CougarBoard forum thread. The post was made by a student commenting how he had been waiting in line since 1 a.m., yet was very excited. Soon after, Whitlock arrived with his wife and a stove and began serving pancakes. 

“It was pretty fun. I had lots of people ask if they could come down and help do it again for future games and also had people wanting to contribute to this,” Whitlock said. 

Whitlock loves BYU for many reasons. Not just because he is a sports fan, but because of what BYU has given to him, he said. He and his entire family are BYU fans.

Several years ago, his daughter was eager to attend Sports Hero Day, a biannual event where 1,000 sixth grade students are invited to meet BYU student athletes.

“My daughter was just thrilled to be able to go, but she got sick,” Whitlock said. “She had a bad flu or something. The night before, something was wrong. Really, seriously wrong.”

After rushing his daughter to the hospital, Whitlock was unable to access the upcoming game on the hospital room’s TV. He posted on CougarBoard asking for help. Several CougarBoard members helped set up online access for them to enjoy the game. 

However, these CougarBoard members did not think just viewing the game was good enough and continued to email and call on Whitlock’s behalf. After his daughter was released from the hospital, Whitlock and his family were invited to attend a BYU basketball team practice where they met with the team after. 

“BYU gives so much and they gave to my family. People on Cougarboard gave to my family in that way. That’s why it’s important for me to give back,” Whitlock said. 

Whitlock and his crew of volunteers plan to distribute donuts to the ROC students at the next home game, BYU vs. Boise State. “If the students are in line, we’ll be there serving them,” Whitlock said.

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