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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Pizza Deliveries: Red Rocks will knock your socks off

By Tony Pizza

Let’s face it, as much as every Ute loyalist wished it were the case, the U isn’t even close to programs like North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky when it comes to college basketball. While the U may have one darling season out of many where it can compete with teams like Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State and USC, they are not a college football giant, either.

The Utes can’t even come close to claiming they are on the same level as Cal State Fullerton in baseball, or teams like Nebraska and UCLA in volleyball. But as good as all those school are in the respective sports mentioned, that is exactly where the Red Rocks rank in gymnastics.

We have the privilege of having a National Championship contender in Utah every single year, and by and large, fans have shown their appreciation and support for the privilege of having one of the best gymnastics teams in the country calling the foothills of the Wasatch Mountain range home.

It is a credit to Utah fans everywhere that our fan base is known as the best in the country. The average attendance to a Utah gymnastics meet has even trumped what the Runnin’ Utes drew at all men’s home games this season. More fans attend Utah gymnastics meets than every women’s sport in the entire country — with the exception of maybe a Tennessee women’s basketball game. But to be honest, this has basically nothing to do with the current student body that calls itself Ute fans.

Now don’t get me wrong, students do go support gymnastics. There is a strong contingency that sits near the beam and vault apparatuses. Students like Alex Steele probably know more about U gymnastics than just about anyone besides longtime beat writer Linda Hamilton and head coach Greg Marsden.

I’m not saying that U students don’t go to gymnastics. I’m not even trying to pretend that quite a few don’t go. I’m just saying that not enough go.

Let me say this again. This is a National Championship contender every single year. When the Red Rocks compete at home, the Huntsman Center should put Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium to shame. Even though the Utes regularly draw more than 10,000 fans, there is plenty of room for more.

At the beginning of the season, Marsden even expressed how important the student fan base is.

“It is the students that make it fun to compete at home,” Marsden said in early August.

He mentioned he wouldn’t even mind seeing a little skin — especially if that skin happened to be painted in big red U-T-A-H block letters, and the fan that wore that came out with more school spirit than a hyperactive high school cheerleader.

There is a time and a place for acting like a Utah fanatic, and the perfect time is Friday nights at the Huntsman Center. Sure there is a little fan etiquette that has to be observed. It’s a little distracting to have fans yell, “I love you Queenie!” or “Will you marry me Little Miss Sunshine?” when Nicolle Ford and Nina Kim are in the middle of a flick flack layout on beam. It’s also not considered good taste to boo the opposing team — even if it is BYU — but other than that, gym meets basically have a basketball atmosphere.

If Ashley Postell nails her floor routine perfectly and the judges don’t see it that way, feel free to let them know how you feel.

If you wanna scream ’til your eyeballs pop out, and paint yourself red and act like the jackass your mom told you she better not catch you being, then go for it. It’s college. It’s the last time your going to ever feel like a kid, why not act like an idiot in front of 10,000 screaming fans? If you’re from Utah, you might even see your mom and little brother at the meet.

If the only time you’ve seen gymnastics is old footage of Kerry Strugg limping down the vault runway in the 1996 Olympics and then nailing a vault for her team and for America — well, you’re missing out. These girls are doing stuff that would flat-out scare the fecal matter out of a Army Ranger, and they do it without batting an eyelash. Kim says she gets so nervous sometimes she “blacks out” on beam.

Marsden also has these meets on a schedule that rivals Marine Corps boot camp, so there are no restless moments in which anyone is left bored. They last about two hours, and some of the things you will see will amaze you — and the scenery isn’t too bad either.

We have very few opportunities as U students to cheer for a team like the Red Rocks, and it is about time more students stop taking them for granted. The gymnasts take on No. 1 Florida on Friday, and if you can’t bring yourself to see a meet, maybe you should rethink where you go to school and go apply to the school down south — the rest of us have a reputation to uphold and some gymnastics to watch.

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