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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Campus Guide: ZonaZoo provides UA with school spirit, community, fun

    Editor’s note: This article is part of the Arizona Summer Wildcat’s 2014 Campus Guide. The Campus Guide is a special issue that runs every year to help introduce incoming students to the UA and campus life.

    As an incoming student at the UA, I had a lot of the same questions concerning college life that many freshmen do. Class schedules, textbook lists and the fact that most buildings on campus divide their even-numbered rooms into one wing and their odd-numbered rooms into another all had me scratching the UA baseball hat adorning my 18-year-old head.

    However, there was one question that I did not need answered: whether I would opt into the most passionate student-fan club in the Pac-12 Conference, the ZonaZoo. After having lived in Tucson for seven years before my freshman year of college, I couldn’t wait to become a part of the pulse of the university athletic programs.

    The ZonaZoo began in 2002 as a UA T-shirt program. It exploded onto the scene in the grandstands behind our sports teams, and a year later the UA recognized it as our official student section. Since then, it has grown into the largest of its kind within the Pac-12, making its voice heard for 20 different collegiate sports throughout the year, as well as organizing trips to several football and basketball games played at the opponents’ location. While attending my first away game, I was shocked to see the opponent’s student section actually sit down during the game, something that never happens in the ZonaZoo. Several of our conference rivals have spirit sections over a century older, yet they are nowhere near as loud or passionate as the “Zoo.”

    The ZonaZoo can often claim a small part in the UA’s athletic victories due to its propensity for noise creation. Nowhere is this exemplified better than in McKale Center (our basketball arena), one of the toughest places to play in Division I basketball. The cheers and chants of the Zoo rattle around in the arena bouncing off the roof and walls, hitting the arena floor with a deafening impact. The crowd noise was a factor in our men’s team going undefeated at home last season.

    Many Arizona athletes and coaches thank the ZonaZoo for its support on Twitter after games. Fans in Zeus, Batman and Gumby costumes were regulars in McKale last season, and with the ESPN projections of another stellar men’s team, we can expect to see them again.

    However, it isn’t all cheering and chanting in the Zoo. You will invariably make connections with your fellow Wildcats in those grandstands. After a physics lab one Thursday evening, I headed to McKale to watch a men’s basketball game despite nobody in my usual “zoo group” being able to attend. I ran into two students I recognized from a past chemistry class. After watching the game together we became fast friends.

    The ZonaZoo is more than just a sports fan club. It can be a release from long hours of studying. Many students treat it as one of the best social experiences on campus, tailgating for hours on the UA Mall before football games. Don’t forget to swing past the ZonaZoo tent on the corner of the mall and Cherry Street to grab a free hamburger before the game.

    For those wanting to embrace the tradition and spirit of our great university, there is no better environment. Standing with 9,000 fellow Arizona students cheering for a touchdown is quite an inclusive experience. This will be my last year as an undergraduate at the UA, but I will be passing down the traditions to my brother, an incoming freshman. Traditions in the Zoo can be anything from a chant shouted after an on-field accomplishment, to staying after the game to listen to the Pride of Arizona Marching Band play Alma Mater.

    Some traditions are new and some date back a decade, but I have the utmost confidence that this incoming class will make the ZonaZoo a more fun and enriching experience than ever before. Stand together (we don’t sit down in the Zoo) and bear down with class and pride this year.

    Myles is a senior studying anthropology. Follow him @thegetawayMYLES

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