After WSU’s home game against the University of Washington there was a post on CougCenter written by GoCougs explaining what it is like to be a member of the ZZU Cru. His diary of events was entertaining and probably typical for most WSU students and their game day experiences. GoCougs showed up to Beasley at 3:20 p.m. for a 7 p.m. tip, meaning that he and his friends had to stand outside for just over 2 hours waiting in line. After reading the diary my friends and I decided it would be fun to try to share our experiences in a similar fashion, to show what a more dedicated (or crazy/stupid, your pick) day in the ZZU Cru looks like since we’re regularly the first people in line.
While not truly part of the game day experience it would be remiss of me to not share some experiences from Friday night used to prepare for the game on Saturday, March 5 against UCLA.
I met up with my friend, Jeff, to make some signs for the game. We found out on Thursday through an official press release that Ben Loewen would be honored for senior day, so we wanted to make a sign for Ben for senior day. Two years ago Jeff was instrumental in organizing the "Caleb Forrest" of green trees passed out to students and last season we made the gigantic Serbian Flag for Nikola Koprivica’s senior night and wanted to send Ben out with a similar bang. We eventually decided on a life size (about 5’11") cutout of Ben.
Paper Ben is printed and glued to some foam board so we set to work on making our second sign of the evening, a giant 60 inch x 40 inch picture of UCLA’s Reeves Nelson falling onto his face last year in Pullman.
The computer struggled and was taking an incredibly long time, so we killed time watching SportsScience videos and listening to Mychal Thompson’s podcast on ESPN710 radio (strongly recommended listening if you haven’t already done so).
We finally decided that our Reeves poster needed to be smaller so the computer and printer could handle the file size and settled on 40 inches x 30 inches.
We were finally able to start our last project of the night, making a couple CougCenter themed signs. After a little deliberation and tinkering with fonts we made the "Buffalo Wild Wings" and "Finga Gunz!" signs.
We cleaned up our work area and loaded up my car with all of the signs we made, finally able to head home for a good night’s sleep.
I woke up to the sound of the WSU Fight Song playing on my phone, my usual game day alarm. After a few minutes sitting in bed wondering why I was waking up after only about 3 and a half hours of sleep I rolled out of bed, packed my warm weather gear and signs up then hopped in the shower.
I arrived at Beasley to take my spot in line. I figured to be the first person there, but there was already a young woman there who had apparently arrived at 3 am. I settled into our usual spot, unrolled my sleeping bag and kicked back to some music on my ipod (which was luckily on my person and not in Brock Motum’s duffel bag).
Jeff finally gets to Beasley, explaining his tardiness by saying that he wanted to eat breakfast, like a true fan I brought a Cliff bar to the game so I could eat in line.
Our friend Scott shows up and rolls out his sleeping bag, mine isn’t too warm on the concrete so he gave me his camping chair. I curled up in my sleeping bag on the chair and fell asleep shortly thereafter.
Nap time is cut short by the arrival of some of our louder friends and ZZU Cru compadres. We settle into the usual routine, talking about the game (which in this case meant a lot of talking about Klay and his suspension).
I pack up my sleeping bag and blankets and head back home to make some lunch. I shed a few layers knowing that I would be a little cold outside when I got back to Beasley, which would be much better than dying from heat stroke once we were let inside.
I grabbed the full assortment of signs, both those that we made the previous evening and our regulars (the giant Klay, Capers, Casto and Neil Stover heads) and head back to line. I considered leaving the Klay head in my car, but figured that I might need it at some point, so I kept it in the bag.
Doors open at the ZZU Cru entrance and I go inside to swipe my card, get a free gray shirt and head to our usual seats across from the visiting team bench. As usual Crowd Management Services checks every sign but doesn’t bother to check anything that I brought in because they recognize the big heads.
The Crimson Girls come out to teach us the flash mob dance, it’s pretty easy to get the hang of and by the end of the training I felt comfortable that the ZZU Cru would be able to pull it off. Marcus Capers stood near the WSU bench and tried to learn the dance as well, he was a lot better at it after one run than anyone else in my section was after 15 minutes of practice.
Ben Loewen exits the tunnel and comes over to check out our life size Ben poster. We make him stand next to it to see if we came close on the height and snap a few pictures.
In what has become a tradition in our section I hold up the giant cutout head of Neil Stover and the other members of the Official Neil Stover Fan Club show our love for our favorite student manager. Neil turns a shade of red similar to what Kevin O’Neil turns when he disagrees with a call.
Senior day festivities for manager Mike Simonson and Ben Loewen, there are flowers and some crying involved. I hate senior days because they always make me get a little teary eyed, this one was particularly bad since it was also my last basketball game as a WSU student.
Shortly after 2:25 pm
Klay Thompson walks up to the microphone and fights back tears to apologize for his mistake and to say it won’t happen again. Prior to that moment I had feared that my last memories of Klay would be him costing us a spot in the NCAA Tournament with his stupid decision. After Saturday I know that the first thing I think of with regards to Klay will be how hard it had to be to apologize to that many people and how impressed I was that he did it. The second thing I will remember is how hard he pulled for his teammates off the bench today. Klay was standing, screaming, cheering and was regularly the first person off the bench to congratulate the team when there were clock stoppages. As much as his run in with the law showed a lapse in judgment, his actions at the game overshadowed everything in my eyes. I joined the chorus of cheers for Klay as he finished his speech and held up the cutout of his head that I had debated even bringing into the game.
Never have I seen a team work as hard as the Cougs did on Saturday. They were ridiculously outmatched from a talent standpoint and jumped out to a big lead. We cheered, chanted, tried to get the Buffalo Wild Wings and Finga Gunz signs on tv, I had my Reeves Nelson sign taken away by CMS since it singled out an opposing player. WSU President Elson Floyd said he really liked the sign and was sad that it got taken away, I thought about asking him for a pardon and to see if he could get it back for me, but decided against it. My friend Brett (aka the "I Like Turtles" guy) tried to get his homemade I Like Turtles sign on tv for you guys as well, we're not sure if he was successful or not.
Flash Mob, unveiling of Butch, got some water since my voice was already starting to have issues. Started a "One More Year!" chant for Klay, but the rest of the ZZU Cru let us down and the chant never really caught on.
Second Half and OT
Cheered and screamed until I was hoarse, hoping the Cougs could hang on for an improbable (maybe even miraculous) upset. Despite our best efforts we came up short and it hit me after the OT period that I’ll never get to watch another WSU game as a student, which was a pretty depressing thought.
Jeff and I went down to the tunnel to see the players after the game. On the way down I stopped at the CMS booth and retrieved our Reeves Nelson sign. We took pictures with Klay, Casto and Capers, each while holding their giant cutout head and then also took a picture with Loewen and his life size cutout. UCLA coach Ben Howland saw us holding the sign of Reeves falling face first onto the floor and called us over to talk to Reeves himself. He was a good sport about the picture and actually signed it and then took a picture with us.
I walked out of the tunnel and exited Beasley Coliseum after a WSU basketball game for the last time as a WSU student.