At every home volleyball game, hundreds of fans rush into the University Recreation Center to support the women’s team.
Four of those fans take it to the next level.
They have traditions–holding signs, cheering specific chants and sitting in the same spot. The friends attend every home match they can and have even traveled to away games. They stay after each match to talk to players and head coach Prentice Lewis.
Bernie Garces, Mitchell Simmons, Kevin Peters and Adam Kelley met while living in Brachman Hall, and each said that attending volleyball games has solidified their friendship.
They come from different backgrounds, but they bond over one athletic interest.
Garces, a sophomore movement science major, plays club baseball at the university and said he always attends football and volleyball games.
“The girls work so hard, and they don’t get the recognition they deserve,” he said. “They’re a good team, and the guys and I want them to know that we are always rooting for them.”
He said their attendance helps the team when they are in tight spots.
“I think our corny chants cheer them up a little bit and they pull out that little extra bit they need to win,” Garces said.
He said the chants are one of the many traditions the four friends perform at every game.
“When Macy [Capen] serves, we pull out her cape and wave it around,” Garces said. “When Alexia [Heist] serves, we yell, ‘Way to be number three.’ When Trisha [Langley] serves, we yell, ‘Here comes the boom,’ and when we get a kill, we use a shotgun noise.”
Garces said he has “sadly” missed a few games for club baseball games and exams, but even then, he still reaches out to the players for good luck.
“I will still send the girls a good luck text or tweet for them to know I’m still pulling for them,” he said.
As far as a favorite player, Garces said he couldn’t pick one “because all of the girls are so nice and cool.”
Simmons, a sophomore religion major, played football in high school and dreamed of playing at Notre Dame before a season-ending injury his junior year.
He said the friends first went to a university volleyball game “to see cute girls,” but almost instantly they became real fans of the team and got to know the players.
“I think of us as their seventh player. We cheer them on the entire game and give them that extra edge,” he said. “Also, every timeout, if the team is on the side we are, we cool them down by fanning them.”
When asked his favorite memory, he thought of one from last season.
“We traveled to the TCU-UT game in Austin. Sadly, we lost, but after the game the guys and I went outside and started singing the TCU Alma Mater,” he said. “UT people got upset.”
He said he has missed one game this season, the match against Ole Miss, but he “talked to head coach Prentice Lewis and the team, and they understood.”
Simmons said his favorite player to watch is senior middle blocker Yvonne Igodan.
“My favorite player I would say is Yvonne Igodan or ‘IgoDANG’ as we call her,” Simmons said. “She plays with great fire and passion and, when she spikes, she gets up in the air and throws down the hammer.”
Peters, a sophomore film, television and digital media major, played four different sports in high school and admits he didn’t know anything about volleyball before coming to the university.
“Volleyball has definitely become my favorite sport to watch,” Peters, who also plays on the club baseball team, said.
He said he attends football, basketball and baseball games “if he remembers” but always makes it a point to go to volleyball games.
“My favorite moment so far has been TCU’s win against Ole Miss at the TCU Nike tournament,” Peters said. “It was easily one of the best games I’ve seen the team play, and it was very exciting from start to finish.”
He said he is convinced the rowdiness of the student section was a reason the Horned Frogs finished out the victory over Ole Miss.
“Attendance at the games definitely makes a difference,” he said. “When the crowd has a lot of energy, you can see the girls get more energy and can definitely see an improvement in their playing.”
Peters has a favorite player. He makes a sign for her for every match.
“My favorite player is an easy one and the volleyball team, at least those that aren’t freshmen, can confirm this is Sutton Sunstrum,” Peters said. “Last year I actually made a ‘Sutton’s #1 Fan’ sign.”
Kelley, a sophomore pre-major, said he played soccer and ran track in high school. He said he doesn’t have a favorite sport, but he attends home volleyball games most regularly at the university.
“I think our attendance definitely helps out the players,” he said. “I know I always played better and had more energy when I had a big group of supporters in the stands.”
He said he has only missed one home volleyball game during his time at the university.
As for his favorite player?
“I don’t really have a favorite player,” Kelley said. “That’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite child.”
Remainder of the season
The young Horned Frog volleyball team has only been in the Big 12 conference for two years, but Peters said he expects big things in the future.
“We definitely have a lot of talent on the team, and we have a lot of young talent,” Peters said. “But this is only our second year in the Big 12. We certainly have the ability to win our share of games.”
Garces and Kelley agreed, saying the “resilient” volleyball team will win a majority of the games in the remainder of conference play.
“I think it’s going well,” Kelley said. “There’s always room for improvement, but I think we show a lot of promise for the future.”