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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Aggie Pack’s impact on audience experience

JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE FILE

Student MCs comment: How Aggie Pack affects sports experience for students, fans

While many factors contribute to the fan experience at college sporting events, one of the loudest is the student spirit section. Their energy can significantly impact the way fans, students and student-athletes alike think about sports games.

Since being founded in the winter of 1993, UC Davis’ Aggie Pack has grown to become the largest student-run spirit organization in the entire country. A unit supervised by ASUCD, its mission statement is concerned with increasing attendance –– specifically student attendance –– for sporting events on campus, with the ultimate goal of cheering loudly and supporting UC Davis’ athletes and their teams. Membership of this student-spirit group is completely free for all UC Davis students, and the group receives designated seating sections in Davis stadiums; Aggie Pack even provides their members free blue T-shirts to wear during sports games and also gives students the opportunity to win tube socks, blue-and-gold beaded necklaces and free food. Students involved in Aggie Pack usually lead the student section in various cheers, chants and games.

As a veteran MC for Aggie Pack, third-year political science and psychology double major Kasey Carlson explained what goes into deciding which sports are given MCs.

“We really focus on the student experience and the fan experience more generally for ticketed events,” Carlson said. “So that’s basketball, football, baseball, soccer, and these aren’t ticketed for students, but for the general population they are, so they bring in money. We want to make sure that people are leaving happy, so we put a lot of energy and effort into those. It’s just [about] where it’s appropriate and where we can hype people up for ticketed events.”

Aggie Pack, like many other college student sections around the nation, works to take care of the fan side of sports. For ticket-buying fans, spirit sections are a source of enthusiasm and entertainment. They hold games and competitions during breaks in play, provide various free merchandise and add a positive energy to the game’s atmosphere. Being a part of a spirit section as a student also allows one to become part of a community and make new friends.

Enthusiastic student sections can also have an effect on the athletes competing. Home teams may experience a case of home field advantage with the roar of their fans behind them, while visiting teams may find the loud student section to be much too distracting.

MC Desi Rakela, a second-year communication and cinema and digital media double major, recalled a particular game where UC Davis’ Aggie Pack was able to make its presence known at Aggie Stadium.

“My favorite part for the football games is just getting the student section really riled up. Their energy actually helps the game,” Rakela said. “I remember one time, we were playing against Cal Poly and everybody was cheering and screaming and I could see the coaches and the players looking back at us on Cal Poly’s team. For me, being an MC is so fun when you can see everybody having a great time in the crowd.”

Managerial economics major Kevin Zhao, another second-year intern and MC for Aggie Pack, reflected on a men’s soccer game he attended last year. The level of support the game received inspired him as a leader of Aggie Pack.

“It was a really packed game […] and part of the reason of why [people] were there is that they wanted to be there,” Zhao said. “They wanted to show their support. It wasn’t just friends and family; it was actually a lot more people from the campus. One of my goals with doing this entire gig is to see students come out [to sports games] because they want to come out and support their school. I want them to have fun and to show some school spirit.”

First-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major Anysa Razaghzadeh added to her colleague’s sentiment, sharing how Aggie Pack has impacted her college experience.

“I think that my favorite part of being involved in Aggie Pack has been the connections it has brought me,” Razaghzadeh said. “I have met so many amazing people, and many of them have become lasting friends. It has also made me love UC Davis even more than when I first came here.”

Aggie Pack continues to expand, with a growing staff, new projects and enthusiasm –– all in hope of leaving lasting impressions on its crowds and enriching the sports experience for UC Davis’ fans.

 

 

Written by: Kennedy Walker — sports@theaggie.org

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