By Christian Manoukian
The Athletic Department has earmarked this quarter as the time to relaunch the student fan group, ‘The Herd.’
Last spring, former Los Angeles Clippers Assistant Director of Communications Steven Esparza moved to CPP to assume the role of Assistant Athletic Director. One of his first jobs was to explore solutions to revamp ‘The Herd.’
“I would say I’ve spoken to hundreds of students, faculty and staff in the year I’ve been here to get an idea what the pulse of this campus is like”in regards to student athletics and interest in supporting our teams,” Esparza said.
Since ‘The Herd’ disappeared, student support at sporting events has dried up, and it has fallen to the Athletic Department to revitalize the student population and get them excited about supporting Broncos Athletics.
Esparza spent time researching the history of ‘The Herd’ and brainstorming multiple creative ways to generate a newfound interest for student athletics.
Bronco Athletics joined forces with University Housing Services to begin a grassroots initiative to relaunch ‘The Herd’ beginning with distributing merchandise such as ‘#feartheherd’ shirts to students living in the residence halls on campus.
Esparza claimed that the focus on Housing stemmed from the fact that the dorms mostly consist of freshmen and sophomores, who are most impressionable and potentially the most willing to buy into actively supporting Bronco Athletics through joining ‘The Herd.’
Another idea Esparza drew from his research on ‘The Herd’ was an inter-residence hall competition for student spirit that culminated in the presentation of a spirit award to the most spirited residence hall.
Athletics assigned point totals to the remaining home basketball games for this season, and whichever residence halls attend are given points for attendance and participation at athletic events.
Those points are tallied at the end of the season, with the winning residence hall earning a pizza party.
While these actions will certainly aim to generate a surge of short-term interest in ‘The Herd,’ Esparza is much more interested in the long-term outlook of the group.
“I’m trying to build something that’s lasting I don’t want this to be just a blip on the radar screen,” Esparza said.
In its heyday, ‘The Herd’ was one of the most active, passionate organizations on campus.
That was largely because of a huge student fan base.
During its strongest years, the group had over 300 students who were involved with the club and attended athletic events.
It was run like any other club on campus, with an executive board made up of students that held regular meetings during the school year.
“The Herd will always have some sort of fingerprint here in athletics,” Esparza said.
“If I can get students to run it and oversee it, that would be the ultimate goal because that’s how it was done originally.”
All these efforts culminated in what was dubbed ‘Pack the Stands 2: The Refill,’ by the department for Thursday’s games against Cal State Dominguez Hills.
According to the Broncos Athletics’ website, 142 people attended the women’s game and 187 attended the men’s game that followed.
“Right now, the most important thing is to see if there’s active student participation,” Esparza said.
“If there is, then I would want to make it student-centric”run by the students, for the students.”
Tevin Voong / The Poly Post
The Athletic Department tapped Thursday’s game as, ‘Pack the Stands II: The Refill,’ for the relaunch of ‘The Herd’
Tevin Voong / The Poly Post
Assistant Director Esparza hopes a renewed Herd will build campus spirit
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