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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Football team to fans: Walk this way

If you are planning on going to the first Arizona home football game this Saturday, you’ll get up close and personal with the players.

The team’s entry into the stadium is being turned into an event: Wildcat Walk.

Arizona Athletics is hoping to turn the event into a tradition.

The idea came from new athletics director Greg Byrne, who had similar traditions during his tenure at other schools. In a blog post on the Wildcats’ official website, Byrne said he hoped the tradition will become “”something that you (the fans) will embrace and enjoy for years to come.””

“”I’ve never done that. It will be new for me,”” said head coach Mike Stoops. “”It’s gone over well at other places I see it. It’s just another way of trying to interact with our fans, and that’s great with me.””

In the past, the team would be picked up from its hotel and dropped off directly at their locker room. Now, with the 15-minute Wildcat Walk, players, the band and cheerleaders will arrive at campus earlier.

Two hours before the game, players will get off their buses at the UA Mall, on the corner of Cherry Avenue and University Boulevard.

Led by the Pride of Arizona marching band, the Arizona cheerleaders and pom line, the Wildcats will walk down Cherry Avenue to their locker room. Fans can then follow the team as they walk. 

Rachel Bennett, a Pride of Arizona French horn player, stated that hardly anything will change for members of the band. The band needs to be on campus two hours before every game in order to warm up in the plaza of the Ina E. Gittings building before coming to the stadium later.

As a member of the band, Bennett is “”really excited to join the tradition and to have a new aspect to the football game,”” since other schools do the same. 

Because a large crowd is expected to be there earlier for the event, she thinks the band will also get more attention from fans.

“”A positive, spirited entrance for our team”” is what the walk is all about, according to Susan Mason, director of Athletics, Management and Media Relations. Mason mentioned it is designed to “”maximize fan exposure and experience”” in a way that would also be easy for the players.

Matt Brown, director of event operations, said the team, coaches and staff are also looking forward to “”seeing the turnout on Saturday.”” Although he doesn’t know how large a crowd to expect at the Wildcat Walk, he hopes it’s “”lined up with people and fans.””

Courtney Strickland, a freshman majoring in East Asian studies, plans to attend the walk; because it is the first one, Strickland wants to be “”part of something that will become tradition.””

Kyle Flynn, a pre-business undergraduate, didn’t know about the Wildcat Walk but said he may attend the event, although issues may arise.

“”People are going to have to be there for two hours before the game. The game is long as it is,”” Flynn said.  He said sitting for an extra two hours could be a problem.

Later, the players will have to make up for those minutes greeting the fans during their warm-up.

Brown also gave a preview of how the players will take the field this season. Similar to previous years but with a “”cleaner set-up,”” the Wildcats will walk through a “”human tunnel”” made up by the Pride of Arizona.

Fans can also expect a surprise from the players before the game, along the lines of last year’s hakah dance, although the athletics department doesn’t yet know what they have planned.

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