Frontiersman proud to be a part of UH tradition
The whistles of a siren, the running of the flags and the sight of men in wranglers and tan dusters aligned along the side of the field have become synonymous with a UH football game — and that may have never been the case if it wasn’t for an ugly, yellow siren.
Originally founded in 1948 as an on-campus organization dedicated to promoting school spirit and increasing the community’s morale, the Frontiersmen organization was filled with some of the most spirited and dedicated leaders on campus. Despite its strong beginning, however, the organization became dormant for years.
That is, until architecture student and Sigma Chi fraternity brother Russell Hruska saw the siren brought by former coaches Jack Pardee and John Jenkins into the football stadium to celebrate a Cougar touchdown.
“I noticed right away that it wasn’t an overly attractive siren. It was yellow. I actually quoted it as a yellow piece of something or another,” Hruska said. “So I approached Coach Jenkins with the idea of creating a siren that would be more impressive. And he said, ‘Well good gosh, that sounds great.’ And he told me that they had actually ordered another siren that was coming in the next couple weeks and that now I was in charge of it, so I said, ‘OK.’”
The original siren was initially hand-cranked by Sigma Chi brothers exclusively, but Hruska wanted to share the new siren with all UH students.
“I wanted to make (the siren) something more than it was,” Hruska said. “I knew if it just stayed in (Sigma Chi), others would belittle it, and it would never be something that everyone supported.”
Hruska then set out with a few of his fraternity brothers to find other members of Greek organizations and create a separate group that would rally around this new siren. He came up with seven guys: Inter-Fraternity Council President Pat Brown, Sigma Nu Commander Tom Dalton, Sigma Phi Epsilon President Bob Patman and Sigma Chi brothers Gavin Kaszynski, Mike Hoover, Scott Kirkland and T.J. Debello.
After flipping through some old yearbooks, Hruska discovered the Frontiersmen, a group that not only supported athletics, but also Frontier Fiesta and all of the University’s endeavors.
The eight men then became the Frontiersmen and reestablished a lost tradition.
After forming the group, Hruska spent his time doodling in class and trying to think of how to make this new oil field siren impressive as he promised Jenkins.
At the homecoming celebration in 1991, the siren was unveiled and adorned with the name ‘the Blaze’ in honor of David Carl Blazek, a spirited supporter of UH and former Sigma Chi brother who had died that summer.
“I wasn’t nervous to unveil it. I was proud. I think I did realize that we were creating something at the time, and we hoped it would be something that stayed around forever,” Hruska said. “But we definitely knew we were creating something special.”
After two decades commemorated by the donning of wranglers and tan dusters by many Frontiersmen, the Blaze has sounded at countless games, creating two well-established traditions in the UH community.
First semester Frontiersman and pre-med senior David Gelovani expressed pride and a sense of honor in being a member.
“Becoming a Frontiersman was a higher calling, in my opinion. It’s something that not too many people get to experience. If you look at how many students are on campus and how many get this opportunity, it really is something different,” Gelovani said.
“Being a part of these traditions makes me feel a lot more a part of this campus. I feel more tied into what U of H stands for and what it does and more related to our Athletics department and spirit department.”
Hruska, now the owner of an architectural company named Intexure Architects, is pleased with what he was able to do as a young college student.
“When you are younger and in college, you don’t think about what something is going to be like in 22 years,” Hruska said. “And now we have had over 100 people who have become Frontiersmen. It’s a strong, viable tradition now, and it is something we are definitely proud of.”