At CU, being a loyal fan sure pays off.
Last Monday, the CU Athletic Department announced that 50 of the most loyal “C-Unit” student section fans would be awarded a paid-for trip to Los Angeles to cheer on the Buffs men’s and women’s basketball teams at the Pac-12 Tournament from Mar. 7-10.
The 50 students, chosen based on best attendance at games according to the Student Loyalty Program, will be provided with flight, hotel and tickets to all CU men’s and women’s games during the tournament.
This Monday, those 50 lucky students were notified that they were selected. Junior Nick Shearon, the well-known “Buff Man” often seen leading cheers and sporting a suit and horned helmet at home games, is among those headed to LA.
“I am going to LA to cheer on my Buffs,” Shearon said. “Colorado’s inaugural Pac-12 Tournament is a once in a lifetime thing that I couldn’t pass up.”
Kyle Longwell of CU’s marketing department said Athletic Director Mike Bohn, men’s basketball head coach Tad Boyle and women’s head coach Linda Lappe are all involved in the C-Unit trip’s planning process.
“The athletic department has been discussing the possibility for a couple of weeks now,” Longwell said. “Based on how well we’ve done in our home environment, having a slice of that atmosphere in LA has the potential to be tremendous for our teams.”
The Buffs’ basketball teams certainly feed off the energy of the student section at home. The CU men’s team has won 14 of its 16 home games this season, its only two losses against Wyoming on Dec. 9 and Stanford on Feb. 23.
The student section’s enthusiasm has even been nationally recognized. The C-Unit was nominated for the 2012 Naismith Student Section of the Year Award and has been voted into the final round among 7 of the nation’s best collegiate fan sections. The winning school, which will receive $5,000 for its athletic department, will be chosen by the Naismith Board of Selectors and announced on Mar. 30.
Longwell said the recognition the C-Unit is getting from the Naismith Board and the media has been especially motivating.
“The attention that C-Unit has received has been unbelievable this season,” Longwell said. “And that shows you that our students, fans and alumni have rallied around the basketball program and support the product that is being put on display. It’s only going to get better from here!”
Shearon said the energy in the Coors Events Center has been growing throughout his time at CU, but has exploded more than ever this basketball season.
“The program has been gaining momentum since I was a freshman and that has drawn a lot more people to the games, but the student section following is really what made the difference,” Shearon said. “There are the individuals who go above and beyond being crazy, and I am of course talking about the crazy kids in the superhero costumes: Buffman, Buffgirl, IronBuff, and Captain AmeriBuff add an element that is so rare.”
Senior Matt Collegeman was among the 50 selected students but is choosing not to miss classes for travel. He said that while some individuals stand out, the C-Unit’s development has been a group effort.
“The best thing about this year’s student section was the collaboration between the C-Unit and the basketball marketing team that brought us all the new cheers and signs,” Collegeman said. “At games, any fan can start a cheer, plus we take cues from the band and cheerleaders.”
The CU women’s team will enjoy the energy of the C-Unit this Thursday, Mar. 1, against the University of Oregon and on Saturday, Mar. 3, against Oregon State University.
The men’s team, however, plays its last two games of the regular season on the road. The Buffs will have to perform without their beloved C-Unit against Oregon on Thursday in Corvallis, Ore., and against Oregon State on Saturday in Eugene.
But just four days later, the Buffs and their loyal fans will be reunited in LA.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Caryn Maconi at Caryn.firstname.lastname@example.org.