Ruff Riders bring spirit to Bronco athletics

Feb. 15, 2001

By SEAN FINNERTY
The Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- They're at every sporting event, taunting the opposing teams, armed with statistics down to the opponents' mothers' names. They appear to be an elitist society, all packed together, a sea of white long-sleeved shirts, donning their sponsors' advertisements and, of course, proudly wearing the name Ruff Riders.

As Santa Clara's official student booster club, the Ruff Riders have a sincere commitment to the Broncos. According to their website, the Ruff Riders are committed to increasing student spirit at all Bronco sporting events. In addition, they attempt to enhance the home court advantage at athletic events while allowing students the opportunity to meet new people. As Ruff Riders, students reap numerous benefits. Besides being given T-shirts, the Ruff Riders are given discounts at such popular hangouts as Cluck University and Stuft Pizza. They also participate in numerous activities together. Stuft Pizza hosts All-You-Can-Eat nights regularly before games. In addition, the cost of attendance and preferred seating to all sporting events are included in the membership fees.

"I think it is great," freshman Erick Redwine said of his experiences being a Ruff Rider. "Since I go to a lot of sporting events it saves me a lot of money and the pre-game activities are always a blast."

The idea for the Ruff Riders came about during the 1998 West Coast Conference men's basketball championship game against Gonzaga. The game was a rare sell-out with students showing up nearly two hours before the game started. Throughout the game, students chanted and yelled in support of the Broncos. With scare attendence in past years, the game became a rare opportunity for students to exhibit an impressive amount of enthusiasm and spirit.

"It was absolutely awesome," senior Kevin McDonough, president of the Ruff Riders, said in a 1999 interview with The Santa Clara. "After the game, we thought that there was no reason why every game should not be like that, so we decided to start a spirit club. We thought that it would be a good way to keep the students involved and enthusiastic about Bronco athletics."

And so, in 1999, the Ruff Riders were born.

With a membership nearing the 1000 mark, the Ruff Riders are preparing to head to the West Coast Conference men's basketball championship in San Diego, looking to relive the enthusiasm and excitement of the 1998 West Coast Conference Championship game.

"I'm really excited to go to San Diego and be able to support our team," freshman Katy Plath said.

The organization has a bus ready to transport fifty-five Ruff Riders to San Diego for the championship, which will begin on March 3. The ten current and incoming officers have reserved tickets and forty-five additional tickets will go on sale Friday at the Leavey Center. The tickets, which will cover hotel, bus and game ticket expenses, will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.

With crowds growing and spirit rising, the Ruff Riders will no doubt continue to increase Bronco pride among students, alumni and fans.

Students can still join the Ruff Riders this year for a fee of $15.