BYU fans take over Provo airport, celebrate Kansas victory

You know what’s more fun than 10 p.m. homework? 2 a.m. homework. At least that’s what BYU students Rayelle Poulsen and Katherine Vincent think.

They had just experienced the thrill of BYU basketball overcoming a second half deficit to upset the No. 7 Kansas in Lawrence, when they started working on their school assignments at the HBLL library.

As the work progressed they noticed a post come up from the BYU Roc instagram account inviting fans to welcome home the victorious team at the Provo airport. Excited by the prospect, they decided to round up a crew to go.

Immediately after the win, Roc Board Co-president Eden Blaser and others had started coordinating what they could do to celebrate with the team. 

“We knew we wanted to welcome them from the airport and immediately started communicating with the team and the social media team in Kansas,” she said.

Despite a flight delay, due to some rough weather, that kept the team waiting for over an hour on the runway to get home, over 200 fans stood in the 20 degree weather to welcome home the Cougars. The arrival of the BYU team was pushed back a couple hours to 2:30 a.m.

To pass the time, the blue clad crowd milled about reliving the highlights such as Dallin Hall’s dagger three, working on homework, and meeting some new friends.

“Sports are a good place to find friends and a sense of belonging,” said Poulsen.

Fans discussed how impressive the outcome was with BYU fan Ry Bohannon recalling a time when most thought that BYU beating Kansas on the road would have been “unimaginable.”

When it finally came time to welcome the team, the fans rounded up their flags, picked up their phones to record, and crowded around the airport exit to catch a glimpse of the team.

The cheers started.

Players and coaches walked out high-fiving fans with huge smiles, and there was a particularly strong ovation as Coach Pope came out, punctuated by “BYU” chants filling the air. Some tears were even wiped away by one of the assistant coach’s wives.

It was cold weekday night, so why did so many come to the airport? For many, the answers came from connections with others.

“My own uncle was a huge hoops fan and would take me to games when I was a kid. It’s how I became a fan. I don’t have my own kids, so I take my nephew to games, and it’s become very special for us. Nothing has solidified my uncle-nephew bonds as much as BYU basketball. And so being able to congratulate the team on maybe its biggest regular season win ever was a chance I could not pass up,” explained Bohannon.

Vincent was a women’s basketball team manager not too long ago, and as such has a unique knowledge of how much work the student athletes put in. 

“There’s lots of hard work fans don’t see and don’t recognize,” she said. “We wanted to help the team know that we are supporting them and recognize the work they are putting in.”

As the team left, the crowd went home. Some had class at BYU or work at a credit union to go to, but for fans like these the night was a success. 

Poulsen and Vincent even got most of their homework done.

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