The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

75° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Team-spirit newsletter hits stands

    Michael Biegelman (right) is one of the many Zona Zoo fans who paint themselves before home games. Biegelman is one of the founding members of the Zona Screw--a flier which is passed out before home games. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)
    Chris Coduto
    Michael Biegelman (right) is one of the many Zona Zoo fans who paint themselves before home games. Biegelman is one of the founding members of the “Zona Screw”–a flier which is passed out before home games. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)

    Great college basketball programs share not only wise coaches and five-star prospects but also spirited fans. From North Carolina’s “”Jump Around”” tradition to UCLA’s eight clap to Duke’s Krzyzewskiville, students compose the atmosphere at a college basketball game.

    At Arizona, traditions have been sorely lacking over the years. Aside from the “”Nice Shot Buddy”” chant after missed free throws, there is nothing Arizona students can claim as their own unique gift to college basketball. But five students are attempting to begin the transformation to take the fairly recent Zona Zoo to the next level.

    If you’ve sat in the Zona Zoo section at a home basketball game this season, you’ve been handed a newsletter entitled the “”Zona Screw,”” now heading toward its seventh issue with the team undefeated in games where the newsletter is handed out. The “”Screw”” provides recent news, a game analysis and the opposing team’s lineup. More importantly, the founders have created the “”Screw of the Game”” and the “”Tool of the Game,”” as well as suggested chants, in order to “”unify”” the student section.

    So who are these guys and why did they decide to do this?

    Junior entrepreneurship major and ASUA presidential candidate Matt Van Horn was sitting at the last exhibition game against Team Georgia when the idea of handing out a newsletter popped into his head.

    “”We weren’t very unionized, we weren’t together,”” Van Horn said. “”I wanted something to bring the students together.””

    Already involved in campus life, serving as an ASUA appropriations director and a KAMP radio disc jockey, among other roles, Van Horn decided to take on this new venture.

    “”I wrote down the name ‘Zona Screw’ in my phone,”” Van Horn said. “”I didn’t want to forget that name.””

    When Van Horn got home, he relayed the idea to pre-pharmacy junior Michael Biegelman. Biegelman, a former Zona Zoo keeper – a position that was abolished last season – can be seen sporting Arizona’s colors across his entire body at home games. Of course, Biegelman agreed to participate.

    “”My passion is U of A sports,”” Biegelman said.

    I wrote down the name ‘Zona Screw’ in my phone … I didn’t want to forget that name.
    Matt Van Horn,
    ‘Zona Screw’ founder

    The plan couldn’t be put into effect until Van Horn came back from Thanksgiving break. Coincidentally, Van Horn sat beside two other Arizona fans on the airplane and told them his idea.

    Business juniors Josh Cohen and Darren Brill were now on board, and the first “”Zona Screw”” meeting would take place. Undeclared freshman Scott Karpen also joined the team before the original issue.

    “”We looked at other student sections like Duke, UCLA and Washington, and we wanted to have everyone chant and cheer in unison,”” Brill said.

    Now the night before every home game, the five meet at the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house to research the opposing team, come up with funny chants and just hang out and talk sports. While the “”Screw”” fits on a 5-by-8-inch piece of paper, the meetings and the bantering last four to five hours.

    The five take turns being in charge of each section, and advertisers such as Cheba Hut and Sterling University Villa have already jumped on board, paying enough for all the newsletters to be made and distributed.

    While the results have been lukewarm for several reasons – including the lack of a yell or chant leader and the absence of hundreds of students at the top of the student section at the beginning of the season – there have been moments of entertainment. During the first game of “”Zona Screw’s”” existence, the newsletters appeared on the NAU bench and the Lumberjack assistant coaches were seen reading the “”Screw.””

    “”That was hilarious,”” Biegelman said. “”I think they were impressed that we spent so much time researching.””

    With the Zona Zoo student section being in its first year of existence in its current format, it has taken some time for the students to latch on to some of the traditions the “”Screw”” founders are starting. Looking into the crowd before tip-off, it has become typical to see the student section perusing the “”Screw.””

    “”At first people were reluctant,”” Van Horn said.

    “”Now it’s great to see everyone reading,”” Biegelman said with a smile. “”The fans love it.””

    “”I like them; it’s cool how they give out the players’ info,”” communication junior Greg Ackerman said. “”Like the ‘where’s your mistress’ (chant), that kind of stuff is cool, because it gives people something to chant about.””

    The chant refers to rumors about Oregon head coach Ernie Kent, which brings up the issue of decency.

    “”If something was over the line, we wouldn’t do it,”” Biegelman said. “”There’s no problem regarding content.””

    Zona Zoo spirit director Amber Harryman said the “”Zona Screw”” does a great job of bringing energy into the arena.

    “”I think even though they push the envelope sometimes, they’ve been great to work with,”” she said. “”I’m supportive of them and they’re supportive of the Zona Zoo.””

    The “”Zona Screw”” is now recognized by the Center for Student Leadership and Involvement, legitimizing the newsletter and possibly paving the way for its existence in the future.

    “”The main reason we did that is so we can pass it on,”” Van Horn said. “”This is the type of thing we want to keep for years.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search