By Christian Manoukian
Have you ever attended a sporting event at Cal Poly Pomona and wondered where the designated student section was?
Where were the screaming students wearing green and gold and cheering our athletes on at games?
In the past, the Herd student fan group would be getting the crowd excited at sporting events and cheering for the Broncos, but over the past few
years, the Herd has slowly disappeared.
The only remnants of the Herd are a few straggling students around campus who still occasionally don their “Fear The Herd” T-shirts on the way to class.
“It’s really a sad state of affairs when you compare the past and the present state of the Herd,” said co-founder and former director of the Herd Lorraine Rodriguez in a phone interview.
In her time at CPP in the mid- to late-2000s, Rodriguez also served as the Bronco Athletics development assistant, but her primary role consisted of shaping and forming the Herd in its infancy.
As part of her job, Rodriguez would help recruit passionate students on campus who wanted to be all-in with CPP sports.
“In its heyday, the Herd was one of the most active, passionate organizations on CPP’s campus, and that was because of the amazing students we had,” Rodriguez said. “During my time there, we had over 300 students who were involved with the club.”
According to Rodriguez, the Herd was started by the Athletics Department in response to a direct request by then-CPP President J. Michael Ortiz to increase student involvement in Bronco Athletics.
“The president didn’t feel that there were enough students on campus that
were proud of their sports teams like you might see at other schools. Everyone was wearing apparel from schools with big football teams and sports programs, and Ortiz wanted students to feel that same pride for CPP sports,” said Rodriguez, who now works as an associate athletic director at the University of Missouri.
The Herd became wildly popular among the student population. The group would host “Pack The Stand” nights at basketball games, give away free vouchers for the Poly Trolley and organize shuttles to transport groups of student supporters to away games to give CPP teams a much-need boost on the road.
After several successful years for both the Herd and CPP sports, the organization began to see a dip in involvement, both on and off the field.
“The people that led the initiative for the Herd transitioned out of the university in the fall, so the people that had the institutional knowledge and the student connections are no longer with us,” said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Brian Swanson. “The continuity with continuing the Herd from year to year just wasn’t there this year.”
Swanson went on to say that he believed that students would again see a strong Herd presence on campus beginning in the fall of 2017.
Bronco Athletics recently hired Steven Esparza as the assistant athletics director for public relations and donor services and Jake Coburn, who is the sports information director.
Both Esparza and Coburn have been tasked with putting the Herd back together, but Esparza specifically has taken on the task of exploring options for rebuilding the organization.
“We’re just having initial conversations, exploratory things, seeing what it was, what happened to it, and what we can do going forward to bring the Herd back,” said Esparza.
With CPP known as a commuter school, both Esparza and Swanson wanted to assuage fears that CPP couldn’t recreate that sense of rabid student support seen during the “glory days” of the Herd.
“We’re always looking for ways to increase student support, and especially on weekend games, that’s the area of best value for our students,” Swanson said.
“With the upcoming new freshman village being built, that will house another 1,200 students, and we want to program and push for those students to become involved,” Swanson added.
“As I walk through campus, people are proud of our logo and our school, and so I see the identity with students,” Swanson said. “It doesn’t matter whether they live on campus or not. It’s our job to push and market our organization and games, and we believe that people will come.”
Retrieved from asi.cpp.edu/campuscrop
The Herd student fan group, shown in 2011 above, has not been active this year.
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