Finding school spirit on this campus can be tricky at times, but one group of shirtless fanatics is doing its best to change that.
This spirited bunch can be found in the front row of the student section at every men’s home basketball game. In order to join them, students will have to strip down and paint up.
This group is known as the Cougar Crazies and usually consists of no more than 10 spirited guys who come to every game.
But what they lack in numbers, they more than make up for in tenacity, bringing cheers, chants, and of course, foam cougar claws.
Some may say they serve as a second set of cheerleaders- just more casual and less pleasing to the eye.
Although their body art tends to change from game to game, it always seems to have a rhyme or reason.
When the first game of the season was just a couple of days before Halloween, the Cougar Crazies used that as an excuse to show up with orange skin. The intended aim was to resemble pumpkins; the popular belief was that they looked more like Cheetos.
They’re also dedicated to sticking to theme nights. They were painted white as ghosts for the Homecoming whiteout.
Matt Bowman, a participant in these shenanigans, explained what motivates him to do what he does.
“I love participating in something that requires me to be silly and energetic and I love getting others to do the same” Bowman said.
Bowman and his fellow Crazies remind people that the word “fan” is short for fanatic.
The opposing teams are sure to take notice as these Cougar fanatics lead the home crowd in loud, in-your-face chants and cheers. And that’s exactly what the Crazies want.
“It’s incredibly important to have the Cougar Crazies at basketball games,” said SGA Campus Events Chairperson Tim O’Leary. “Without them, there is a notable lack of energy in Ariel.”
Not only do the Cougar Crazies bring vitality for the home team and fans, they also aim to be an obnoxious distraction to the visitors, performing preposterous acts and dancing in all sorts of wild fashions when the visitors are shooting toward their end zone. Although annoying, this is all in good fun and in the spirit of competition.
“I believe that the purpose of our noisemaking is to be distracting, but we’re not being offensive,” Bowman said. “We’re not swearing or making fun…It’s just part of the home team advantage.”
The Cougar Crazies do a lot of things well, but their most appealing aspect is the ferocious and infectious energy they bring to every game.
They inspire a sense of unity and encourage students to bond over one common belief: school spirit must be displayed, no matter how ridiculous you look.
Photo by Torre Massie.