Happiest in the Kennel
That is the only way to describe what it feels like to be in The Kennel. We may not have a football team here at Gonzaga, but when winter comes around we make up for it by living and breathing basketball. Waiting in line in freezing temperatures just to get a ticket and then another line the morning of the game to get a good seat is all worth it to have the opportunity to stand in the Kennel and witness history (for free!). Whether I’m standing in the front row heckling the poor souls that dared to step on to the court and face the Zags or in the back of the student section enjoying some Ben & Jerry’s soaking up the calm before the storm, the electricity is there.
The excitement that builds up around being a part of The Kennel starts during the coveted Zombie Nation cheer. I was talking with a prospective Gonzaga student a couple of weeks ago and she asked me what my favorite tradition is on campus. I thought about it, wanting to give her the best possible answer. Thinking of something that truly brought the entire school together, my mind went to a sea of red, the shaking of the stands and the chant, “WE ARE GU!”. Zombie Nation is more than a tradition, it is more than a dance, it’s a connection to something bigger. Win or lose, as a Zag fan, you are united with your fellow students in the Kennel.
I will always remember my first Zombie Nation; I was genuinely scared for my life as the bleachers shook under my feet. Now the shaking bleachers excite me and get me insanely pumped for the game that is about to unfold. After our exhibition game this year our opponent gave us his opinion on our dance saying, “Oh that was scary as hell!” All the chants and dances are our intimidation factor and they are what make the Kennel so hard to play in.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are currently ranked #1 [in 2017] and are the only undefeated team left in the nation. I like to think my screaming and chanting helped them get there! I think that is what makes being part of The Kennel so special: You do feel like you are helping the team win. In a smaller arena you are the 6th man. There is something so exciting about watching Jonathan Williams make a huge dunk in a fast break after a great steal by Silas Melson. Immediately after, Williams will turn to the student section screaming of excitement and all you can do is scream right back because the players feed off of our energy and we feed off of theirs.
Nothing will ever compare to my time in the Kennel losing my voice from all the cheering with 1,200 of my closest friends. The Kennel is home and this season has been such a special time. I feel so blessed to have gotten to witness history. I never want basketball season to end!
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