Success Stories: How Effective Operations Transformed Student Sections

Running a student section is not all about spontaneous cheers and spirited chants; it’s a well-orchestrated operation that, when done right, can lead to remarkable growth in engagement and support. In this post, we’ll explore success stories from schools like the University of Arizona, Gonzaga University, and Grand Canyon University (GCU) to showcase how effective operations transformed their student sections and turned them into thriving fan communities.

University of Arizona: The ZonaZoo

At the University of Arizona, known for its powerhouse basketball program, the student section known as the “ZonaZoo” underwent a remarkable transformation. Here’s how:

Strategic Leadership: The ZonaZoo was led by a dedicated student board with clear roles and responsibilities. This leadership ensured smooth operations and effective communication.

Membership Tiers: They implemented a tiered membership system, offering different levels of engagement based on student involvement. Members enjoyed various perks like early access to tickets and exclusive events.

Engaging Game Themes: The ZonaZoo created memorable game themes, such as “Red Out” and “Beach Night,” which encouraged students to participate and dress accordingly, fostering a sense of unity.

Fan Experience: They improved the overall fan experience by organizing tailgates, watch parties, and meet-and-greets with players, making being part of the ZonaZoo more than just attending games.

The result? The ZonaZoo saw increased attendance, louder cheers, and unwavering support from students, making it one of the most formidable student sections in college basketball.

Gonzaga University: The Kennel Club

Gonzaga University’s student section, the Kennel Club, has a rich history of enthusiastic support for the Bulldogs’ basketball team. They achieved success by:

Consistent Presence: The Kennel Club maintained a strong presence at every home game, fostering a sense of loyalty and commitment among its members.

Effective Communication: Clear communication channels ensured that members were informed about game times, themes, and events, keeping them engaged and motivated to attend.

Camping Out: Gonzaga is known for its iconic camp outs for big games, known as “tent city”.

Community Engagement: The Kennel Club extended its reach beyond game days by participating in community service projects, demonstrating the positive impact of its enthusiastic members.

Gonzaga’s Kennel Club became a force to be reckoned with, creating an electric atmosphere at every game and playing a pivotal role in the Bulldogs’ basketball success.

Grand Canyon University (GCU): The Havocs

GCU’s student section, the Havocs, is known for its unrivaled energy and unwavering support for the Antelopes. Their success story includes:

Brand Building: The Havocs focused on building a strong brand identity, complete with their signature “Lopes Up” hand gesture and Havocs attire, fostering a sense of belonging.

In-Game Experience Pioneers: GCU created an in-game atmosphere unlike any other school in the nation. With unique traditions and music, students and fans alike are in agreement that attending a GCU game feels more like a rave than a sporting event. This sets them apart from what other schools are doing and effectively draws in more students. 

Social Media: Leveraging social media effectively, they created buzz around games, organized ticket giveaways, and showcased their passion, attracting more members.

Travel Support: The Havocs didn’t limit their support to home games; they traveled to away games, making their presence felt and demonstrating their dedication.

GCU’s Havocs have not only created a thrilling atmosphere at their home games but also gained national recognition for their commitment to school spirit.

These success stories from the University of Arizona, Gonzaga University, and Grand Canyon University demonstrate how effective operations can transform student sections into thriving fan communities. By implementing strategic leadership, engaging members, and creating unforgettable fan experiences, these schools have witnessed remarkable growth in attendance, support, and school spirit. These case studies serve as a testament to the power of well-run student sections in elevating the fan experience and creating a lasting legacy.

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