Have you ever been to a UC Davis athletics event? Have you seen those crazy guys yelling at the crowd during every play? Ever wondered what it is like to be one of those guys?
If your answer is yes to these questions, you are like me.
So I set out to see what a day in the life of an Aggie Pack MC was like.
However, I am the sports editor. My purpose is to write and edit sports in the most objective manner possible. In fact, I haven’t cheered at a football game since my freshman year.
Nonetheless, I exchanged my press pass for an Aggie Pack shirt and left my comfortable press seat for eight jam-packed hours of candy, beads and of course, tube-sock madness.
The fact was I wanted to know what being in the stands was all about – and who those nuts were yelling through the microphone to pump up the crowd.
Enter Adam Darbonne and Tommy Wolff, this year’s Aggie Pack MCs. The duo, who follow in a legacy of well-known MCs Chris Perry and Scott Judson, have quickly made a name for themselves at the helm of what Darbonne considers one of the most unique student sections in the nation.
This past Saturday, while UC Davis played North Dakota at Aggie Stadium, I had the opportunity to shadow the MCs for a day.
Being an MC means volunteering
The MCs aren’t the only ones doing the work. There are many other Aggie Packers that volunteer each week and work hard to set up for UC Davis athletic events.
Volunteering is actually how Darbonne got his start.
“I starting volunteering with the Aggie Pack my freshman year,” Darbonne said. “I volunteered four or five months and became an intern. At the end of the year, Chris Perry was graduating and at a meeting one day they said they needed to start looking for another MC.
“I raised my hand and said, ‘I would love to try it.’ I tried it out fall quarter. I liked it and stuck with it.”
Wolff said he had a similar experience to Darbonne’s.
“I started volunteering during the first two years of college,” Wolff said. “My junior year I became an intern. When our two MCs graduated we needed someone, so I stepped up.”
Being an MC means being LOUD!
Don’t take it from me, though. During my day as an MC, my voice was shot four minutes into the first quarter – something that the MCs attest is a difficult part of the job.
“After a game I am pretty beat,” Darbonne said. “My throat is definitely sore. It usually takes a day or two to recover.”
To be an MC, being consistently loud on big plays, during any madness (candy, tube-socks etc.) and even during timeouts is essential to keep the crowd pumped up.
“As an MC, I’m really part of the game,” Darbonne said. “That’s one of the things I really love about it. I love to create the kind of atmosphere I want to see UC Davis have in the future.”
Being an MC means lots of preparation
For those of you who think the MCs just show up, are handed a microphone and start yelling, think again.
I, along with the crew, showed up three and a half hours prior to game time to set up speakers, check-in, t-shirts and free giveaways.
“There are tons of preparation,” Wolff said. “You have to set up the entire stage and sound system. You have to set up check-in and the t-shirts. It’s not just show up and start cheering. It’s show up, set up, cheer, take it down. It’s a complete, full day.”
Not only do the Aggie Packers show up early, but they receive a down-to-the-minute schedule of events throughout the game – most importantly when free stuff is given out.
Being an MC means living a hard block life
When it comes down to it, during a game you will often shift your attention to one of the MCs, because they are either acting wild or telling you what cheer to do.
Another reason you notice them is because they are doing all of that while standing on top of their blue box, for the entire student section to see.
This is something that pumps up the crowd and the MCs themselves.
“It’s a pretty cool thing to be up there and up on the railings,” Darbonne said. “To be leading a crowd like that is a blast. It’s really exhilarating.”
However, the life of an MC isn’t easy – a hard block life you might say.
“It is a ton of work and a big-time commitment,” Darbonne said. “It’s a lot of grunt work.”
One of the toughest things about being an MC is tube-socks. Not the pair of socks themselves, but the fans who want them so bad.
“It’s annoying when people are more focused on getting tube socks than cheering for the team that they are at the game for,” said up-and-coming MC Natalie Katz.
All in all, the life of an MC may not be as glamorous as it looks.
The MC must also chat with students before the game, make sure everybody in the student section is wearing Aggie blue, choose who gets the box of Steve’s Pizza (I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone).
Regardless, it seems as though Darbonne and Wolff wouldn’t change what they have for anything.
“As we are transitioning to a big school type of program, I really enjoy getting to be a part of creating that atmosphere,” Darbonne said. “It’s totally an honor to get to be the face of the Aggie Pack.”
After all, it’s the undying support of the MCs as well as every fan who has donned Aggie blue that will continue to help evolve the culture surrounding UC Davis athletics.
“I can see the groundwork has been laid,” Darbonne said. “We will be a national powerhouse. You can see it and you can start to feel it. The culture at UC Davis is changing.
“I think UC Davis athletics is going to have probably the greatest atmosphere in college sports and for that I am really excited to see where it’s going.”
MAX ROSENBLUM can be reached at email@example.com.