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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


ZonaZoo strives for ‘best section’ honor

Valentina Martinelli
Valentina Martinelli / Arizona Daily Wildcat Wilbur celebrates with the Zona Zoo on Saturday March 5, 2011.

Every game day, ZonaZoo pass-holders crowd the student section and cheer on Wildcat athletes. From donning hot animal suits to getting completely naked and running across the field, every ZonaZoo member has their own way of showing spirit.

This school year, 12,000 students hold passes to the only student-run student section in the Pac-12. Ten thousand of those 12,000 students were allowed into the football stadium each game this season on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Because the student section at McKale Center only houses 2,300 students for basketball games, ZonaZoo members must reserve tickets online the Sunday prior to that week’s game.

“There’s not enough student seats and we have such a big school that it’s almost too competitive,” said Louis Christensen, an agricultural business junior. “But the good part about it is the people that go actually really want to be there and will stay the whole time, unlike football where people leave at halftime.”

The ZonaZoo section opens two hours prior to game time, before any other ticketholder can enter the stadium. During that two-hour period, students watch the ZonaZoo TV show to get pumped up for the game.

“It’s their home, it’s their stadium … they get to kind of get excited and then really pump up the crowd as well as they come in,” said Hillary Davidson, the ZonaZoo executive director and senior studying business marketing and sports management.

ZonaZoo works closely with the athletics department to ensure that its members continue to show their passion and dedication through buying passes and reserving seats. Though ZonaZoo is one of the biggest and loudest student sections, there is still room for improvement, according to Davidson.

“We need to make sure that ZonaZoo students are signing up and showing up to pre-season games as well as in season games, and we need to show our dedication that way,” Davidson said.

Nick Lenhart, a business marketing junior, also said sometimes students in the ZonaZoo section lack dedication, especially with football.

“It all depends on how our sports team is doing and, I mean, I guess you can find that anywhere you go that has a really committed student section,” Lenhart said.

ZonaZoo has recently entered a competition with I Love College Hoops to officially become “the number-one student section in the U.S.,” according to Davidson. Christensen said ZonaZoo could use a little more togetherness in order to live up to the reputation of the best student section.

“If we have some sort of person to look to, to keep the zoo together … a zookeeper if you will … we definitely have the noise, we definitely have the rowdiness,” Christensen said.

Along with setting up and pumping up the student crowd before games, ZonaZoo holds more than 50 events every year. The ZonaZoo organization has community outreach, marketing, media and programming sections. Volunteers work every semester to run these committees and host events from tailgates before football games to designs and a TV and radio show.

“When you become a part of ZonaZoo, you become a part of something bigger than yourself,” Davidson said. “We have 12,000 of the craziest fans in the U.S., we have 12,000 of the most spirited fans and we have 12,000 of the most passionate fans.”

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