Coog Crew, Bleacher Creatures entice student fandom
You probably heard them loudly leading the crowd in one of UH’s chants before you ever actually laid eyes on them, and you probably saw most of them without their shirts on before you knew their first name.
The Bleacher Creatures and Coog Crew expose their bodies to the cold and blistering heat, stand the entire game ignoring the plastic red seat behind them, lose their voices from yelling “Coogs’ House” one too many times and arrive to an empty stadium two hours before a game even starts, which is their idea of a fun Saturday.
Both organizations have been like spirit ambassadors for UH, not only cheering at football games, but all sports events across campus.
The Bleacher Creatures, the spirit organization for Honors College students, and Coog Crew, an organization open to all students, have set the standard for student fans for more than a decade.
Senior psychology major and Bleacher Creatures president Gabbi Hauser said her shortened Saturdays are worth it for the opportunity to root for her beloved University.
“We love our team, we love UH and we want to support the Cougars. (Being at the game) is a very fun release for everyone,” Hauser said. “It is a really big time commitment, but we love our team. We are willing to sacrifice our Saturdays or Friday nights to support the team that we care so much about.”
For sports administration senior and Coog Crew president Joshua Giles, the experience of looking up from the bottom of the stadium to see the entire student section is made worthwhile by the people he’s with and by the opportunity to meet new people.
“When I came to UH, I was socially awkward and I didn’t talk. I was a shy kid. Then I met one of my best friends, who was the recruitment chair for Coog Crew. He was a very outgoing guy and very loud. He was basically who I wanted to be, so I started (being involved with Coog Crew),” Giles said.
“Coog Crew is an umbrella organization that everyone can join. There are very (few) organizations that everyone can join. And I think athletics is one of those things that brings together every university student and lets them socialize and make connections with people they wouldn’t have otherwise met.”
Game day, although full of chances to make new friends, is often long, especially for the officers of these spirit organizations. Starting several hours before kickoff, the leaders must, in dealing with the temporary change to Reliant Stadium, arrive at Reliant early and enter into the stadium to reserve their respective sections while attempting to coordinate the body painting of their members before they board the shuttles. Then, they all stand and yell for what could be three hours, according to Hauser.
With goals of uniting the University and promoting school spirit, Coog Crew and the Bleacher Creatures will continue to strive to have the loudest sections in any stadium and hope to increase active student involvement in Athletics for future seasons.
Senior education major and Coog Crew vice president Victoria Weast said the people she has befriended because of Coog Crew and the sight from the front row section — especially events like ESPN College GameDay’s visit during a 2011 contest against SMU — have made her love UH more than she ever thought.
“It’s amazing. Josh (Giles) gets goose bumps every time (he thinks) about it,” Weast said. “But looking up in (the stadium) to see the entire student section — it’s just beautiful.”