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His Dedication

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Kevin Wos, a senior in political science, shows off his Zona Zoo shirt this Wednesday, September first. Kevin has been part of the UA Zona Zoo tradition since his sophomore year and mostly uses his season tickets to attend football, mens basketball and baseball.
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Kevin Wos, a senior in political science, shows off his Zona Zoo shirt this Wednesday, September first. Kevin has been part of the UA Zona Zoo tradition since his sophomore year and mostly uses his season tickets to attend football, men’s basketball and baseball.

By design, Kevin Wos knows them all.

Stripe fades on helmets, colors on face masks, and sleeve patterns on every Division I college football uniform — count on Wos like you would for a pastel sunset after an August monsoon. He designs them himself as one of two Wikipedia contributors uploading the most accurate and up-to-date uniform renderings.

Wos even uploaded the maroon and gold — not by choice — “”Scum”” Devils, which is the only phrase he uses to describe ASU’s nickname. With his allegiance anchored to Tucson, Ariz., any activity within the grounds of Arizona Stadium, McKale Center and Frank Sancet Stadium — you can count on him to be there, too.

By design, so fittingly, his graduation day — eight months away — doubles as a last rah-rah in McKale to embrace Wildcat pride as a student and first as an alum with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and Master’s in Zona Zoo.

That’s just how he’s designed, which is the case of many others living with a mild form of Autism called Asperger syndrome.

Most, like Wos, develop passionate obsessions as teenagers and young adults. But most lack the social skills considered essential at a party-hard-and-pack-the-stadium school like Arizona.

He’s lived through immature roommates that have impersonated him online.

Or barricaded him in his own room.

By design, unintentionally, athletes like Chase Budinger have made big differences. Budinger and Wos went to the same high school in Oceanside, Calif., so Wos figured that if Tucson’s good enough for the standout basketball recruit, it’s good enough for him.

Wos’ strength feeds off professional athletes who exhibit their own on the field to keep him focused. He could’ve let the death of his brother — the four-year anniversary of the accident that caused his death is today — crush his senior year of high school. He could’ve let a fight and suspension in high school tie him down.

He hasn’t.

Even against his own design.

 

 

Head-to-toe in cardinal and navy

 

You hear the Zona Zoo boast about its numbers all the time: Largest football student section in the Pacific 10 Conference, largest basketball area in the conference, et cetera. But hidden among the tank-wearing bros and cut-up-dress blondes, there’s a dedicated student fan base outnumbered in size but dominating in heart.

He goes to every game. Baseball, basketball, football — every one.

Just walking around campus Wednesday, Wos wore his brand new Zona Zoo t-shirt, UA basketball headband and black Arizona hat. He’s got 30 different Wildcat shirts, a set of coasters, a Sean Miller bobble head and enough pride to make UA athletic director Greg Byrne look neutral.

We passed a student wearing a Kansas Jayhawks t-shirt, prompting an explanation of the “”Wos Rules to on Campus Sports Attire.””

“”Don’t wear stuff from other schools,”” said Wos, who finished with enough Zona Zoo points to attend the year-end athletics banquet last May. “”It’s like, ‘what are you doing? Get it together.'””

Like that SportsCenter commercial with a student giving a sports-related tour to incoming freshmen, I asked Wos, “”Do you ever think, ‘wow, this is where Jason Terry or Gilbert Areans went to class just like you do,'”” pointing to a spot close to the Student Union.

“”Yeah, it’s cool to see athletes around campus,”” Wos said, telling the story about last week when he didn’t realize he was standing behind UA basketball starter Kyryl Natyazhko at the bookstore.

Natyazhko is one of Wos’ several athlete Facebook friends. He’s got players on the basketball, football, softball and baseball teams. Wos even received a personal thank-you on Facebook from UA baseball ace Kurt Heyer, acknowledging the never-ending support both on and off the field.

After all, he’s never left a game early. Except for one: The Holiday Bowl last December, and only because his Mom was over the rainy weather.

“”And I don’t mess with my Mom,”” he said with a laugh.

 

‘It was just tough’

 

Family support means everything to Wos, the youngest of three brothers. In sixth grade when Wos transferred school districts and moved up a grade mid-year, his family remained alongside while dealing with the difficulties of pre-teen social acceptance with Asperger syndrome.

Sophomore year of high school Wos got into a fight at a speech and debate forum, resulting in a suspension.

“”It was just tough,”” he recalled, frustrated by the social cliques.

Four years ago to the day, beginning senior year of high school, his brother died in a motorcycle accident. Today Wos wears two wristbands: A black one in his memory and a green one supporting organ donors, because after his brother was taken off life support on Labor Day, those organs saved a life thanks to a successful transplant.

“”It was a tough year, but he wouldn’t have wanted us to stop what we are doing,”” Wos said, recalling his brother’s memorial service that was standing room only in 2006.

A few weeks later, Wos found out he was accepted to the UA.

“”I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.””

He still hasn’t.

 

Plans for Dec. 2

 

Wos wants roses just as much as any sorority girl does before her annual formal. He suggests that if the Wildcats make the Rose Bowl this year, the Arizona Daily Star’s front page should be a rose. And that’s it.

Wos absorbs UA coverage like a sponge. He reads the Arizona Daily Wildcat, Daily Star, ESPN.com, PointGuardU.com . . . the list goes on.

Knowing how Wos interacts and contributes so much, Daily Wildcat sports editor Tim Kosch scheduled a lunch with Wos Wednesday to gather input from his entourage of devoted fans and what they like to see in the sports pages. The 52-minute lunch turned into mostly a reminiscing session tied together by a few suggestions, not to mention his plans for the Dec. 2 football game against ASU.

“”I’ve got class until 12:30, so I’m going to class, dropping stuff off at the dorm and heading right over to the stadium,”” he said.

It’s similar to the technique he uses for McKale Center, getting there hours before tipoff to sit front row, closest to the visiting bench.

“”It’s not my seat, but I always sit front row, farthest to the left,”” he said.

 

His Outlet

 

While dorms typically consist of about 80 percent freshmen, it’s left Wos with a roller coaster of experience living all four years on campus. His newly matured demeanor hasn’t always mixed with the incoming freshmen’s 18-year-old mentalities.

Last year, his roommates gave him a hard time, drinking in the room and being disrespectful taste to the new Wos, who found a peaceful outlet through sports and has calmed down since the uneven high school days.

“”But that almost set me back a couple years,”” said Wos, recalling how difficult it was freshman year when he wasn’t active in Zona Zoo, finding it difficult to adjust to college life alone. “”It was pretty hard.””

Sports takes his mind off getting “”seriously homesick.”” He’s part of a team and a greater product that he puts ahead of himself. Through the Zona Zoo, he’s made friendships and experienced the college dream through the ups and downs of Budinger, Willie Tuitama and Preston Guilmet.

“”I may be a big fan, but it’s not about me, I’m part of a unit,”” Wos said as if he were a quarterback. “”A whole big group of people.

“”Having an outlet like sports is incredible to let off some steam,”” he added. “”I just can’t see myself controlled by those issues.””

After 90 minutes of chatting about everything the average two UA seniors would, he sat outside his 3:30 p.m. class at the Chavez building and showed me a photo of when he met Byrne last weekend.

“”Pretty cool,”” he said with a smile the size of the UA Mall.

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