The 2016 Mountain West Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada, was a tremendous success for the Colorado State University women’s basketball team, which won the tournament and was subsequently selected to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. Additionally, their most dedicated supporters, the CSU Pep Band and the CSU Spirit Squad, received a special recognition.
Following the tournament, it was announced that this year’s top-ranking Mountain West Conference Tournament Game Day Spirit Program, with a score of 97 percent, was the Colorado State University Rams!
As a new initiative, the tournament, in conjunction with the National Cheer Association and National Dance Association, created a game-day evaluation designed to share suggestions as to how each school’s spirit program, through technique and performance, can provide a more valuable service to their school and the tournament. While recognizing CSU as the program that stood out the most in their overall presentation, the evaluators considered half a dozen areas, including Crowd Leading and Appeal; Skill Incorporations; Image and Sportsmanship; and Spirit Program Coordination.
“The environment we help to create is where we earn our keep,” Bill Boggs, senior vice president of NCA and NDA College programs, said via email. “I was very impressed with each spirit program at the tournament this year. It is my hope that this evaluation will motivate each of you to continue your efforts to improve each year, and help bring greater success to your program and everyone as a whole.”
For the members of the CSU Pep Band, directed by Richard Frey, and the CSU Spirit Squad (CSU Cheer, coached by Dawn Burton; CSU Golden Poms, directed by Brittany Wade-Pruett; and CAM the Ram), the basketball and volleyball seasons overlap with football, making the tournament the culminating event of a school year requiring intense dedication and commitment. Band and spirit members performed at most games at both Hughes Stadium and Moby Arena, as well as at special events and select away games – about 75 events in all – and the students’ excitement and support continued to swell throughout.
“When you have a passion for something it truly shows, and I love the moments when our crews get into the games and just do what they love,” said Burton. “And to be able to support our teams on the road is such a great feeling.”
Chase Morin, graduate teaching assistant for CSU Bands, echoed that sentiment.
“I was overwhelmed with pride after seeing the unwavering support and energy from our students as they cheered on both teams, game after game,” said Morin. “It was especially thrilling to see the strengthening of the bond between the teams and the pep band throughout the week, [and] by the end of the tournament, it really felt like we were all one big Ram family!”
Tournament organizers implemented the evaluation as a tool for increasing the recognition of each school’s spirit team in the eyes of fans and administrators, and according to Burton, CSU “gets it.” “The entire campus thrives on teamwork,” she said. “We have great crews and a great time all together – it’s truly teamwork at its finest.”
Frey, associate director of bands, was proud to support CSU athletics, especially the women’s and men’s basketball teams, at the tournament and throughout the year.
“I’m continually impressed by the enthusiasm and excitement shown by our students throughout the season, and it’s an honor to be recognized by our conference in this way,” he said.
“It is obvious how hard you and your student athletes work to prepare for each and every game,” Boggs said.
“It was obvious to me too,” added CSU Athletic Director Joe Parker in a message to Burton and Frey. “Congratulations and thank you!”
The following are some of the tweets from coaches, players and fans:
“Thank you for this season, you guys have been amazing.” ~ Elin Gustavsson, CSU Women’s Basketball (@jelenaelin)
“We can’t wait to be Dancing with @CSUMBand, @CSUCheerleading, @CSUGoldenPoms! You are champions right along side us!! #gorams #ramfan” ~ Ryun Williams, CSU Women’s Basketball Head Coach (@CSU_Williams)
“Huge thanks to @CSUMBand, @CSUGoldenPoms, and @CSUCheerleading for all the support! Not only this week but all year!!” ~ Ross Hodge, CSU Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach (@coachrosshodge)
“@CSUMBand you were absolutely fantastic today! You rock and congrats on the Women’s championship! See you next year! #BandPride” ~ Fresno State Band (@fsbmb)
“You guys are so awesome!!!” Ellen Nystrom, CSU Women’s Basketball (@ellennystrom)
“@CSUMBand is doing an awesome job supporting our teams!” ~ Joe Parker, CSU Athletic Director (@JoeParkerCSU)