Editor’s note: This is the first of a 10-part series featuring WSU athletic teams, student-athletes, and events that best embody the Cougar spirit and unite the university.
Cougs never get tired of waking up in the early hours of Saturday mornings to the WSU marching band drumming down Stadium Way.
Bright and early, regardless of the weather, the band is out in full swing. Rally the friends and throw on your crimson and gray because the day is finally here.
It is Cougar Football Saturday, and the long-held tradition of sold out football games is starting up once again.
The pregame tailgates kick off the morning slate and are always raring to go by the time you find breakfast. However, these festivities involve more than just the students. Parents, alumni and friends join together to comprise the comradery behind a Cougar Football Saturday.
This tradition never gets old, with the fight song playing in full force. Anywhere on campus, one is bound to hear the chorus of ‘“So fight, fight, fight for Washington State and victory!”
Students’ faces stare down from the windows of Holland/Terrell Libraries throughout the middle of the week, anxiously anticipating game day while overlooking the football team practicing on the Martin Stadium turf. Days in advance of kickoff, alumni roll in with RV’s and trucks, setting up tents for the weekend ahead.
Whether it be at the practice fields adjacent to Hollingbery Fieldhouse and connected to Martin Stadium or the gray lot east of the Student Recreation Center, the tailgating festivities are often a week-long affair.
There are many reasons why Cougar Football Saturdays are the main identity of the fall semester schedule. It could be the traditions of Cougar football, the excitement of screaming and cheering during the game or the coming together of all students on campus. Regardless, football games are arguably the most inclusive event of the entire school year for everyone.
Whether you are close to getting frostbite or you’re hunched over in your poncho from all the rain, fans make it through the game knowing the sounds of their yelling and cheering are heard throughout Greek Row all night after a victory, as students and alumni join forces at the Coug and Valhalla to celebrate.
Former safety Taylor Taliulu’s pregame pump up music blasts through every speaker in Martin Stadium as the Cougars get ready for kick off after marching down the field for another touchdown. “Wa-Zzu! Wa-Zzu! Wa-Zzu!”
With Martin Stadium holding about 33,000 people, it is truly astonishing that football games continuously sell out. The team’s record often has no bearing on attendance. The continued support embodies the Cougar spirit at WSU without ever slowing down.
People love football. It’s an undeniable reality of American sports, and WSU is no exception.
In addition to the 29,000 currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students on campus, high school students, parents, alumni and Pullman residents all make up the fan base of a Cougar Football Saturday and reflect the diverse culture of the university.
The game day success does not come from the fan base alone. The tremendous financial support from the school and community enables the football program to continue to lead the way for WSU athletics and compete at the highest level with other Pac-12 opponents.
The 88,880-square-foot Cougar Football Complex towering over the Martin Stadium provides a home and identity for the team and features a state-of-the-art facility that pays tribute to the past and present of Cougar football.
This five-story building includes locker rooms, laundry facilities, study rooms, interview spaces, a dining hall and a nutrition bar that compliments an 11,000-square-foot weight room. The opening of the building in 2014 was largely made possible by the fan support seen on Cougar Football Saturdays yearning to see a product on the football field comparable to the success of the game day experience.
WSU continues to provide impressive support for its football program, knowing the weight it holds for the morale of the athletic department and university as a whole. We look forward to cheering on NFL-ready players, such as wide receiver Gabe Marks and safety Shalom Luani, who helped rebuild the football program and are set to represent the school professionally.
But Cougar fans are commonly left wondering how good the team will be next season. A recruiting class featuring a strong group of three and four-star athletes to pair with redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk in his senior season, fans don’t have much to worry about, yet their support remains the same regardless of the team’s prospects.
Between blown leads, failed comeback attempts or a missed field goal on a Halloween game against the eighth-ranked team in the country, it’s not always easy to be a Coug fan. Sure, the team often “Cougs it,” but we still support them on Cougar Football Saturday no matter what.
Come Saturday, the Cougar family separates itself from the school in purple on the West Side, and the gameday experience is what defines WSU athletics.