Sept. 26, 2008
Video: Check out the Krakus Ham Cam
Video: Wildcats sing fight song with student section
EVANSTON, Ill. -- After the rain washed away most of the fan elements at the Wildcats' game against Southern Illinois on Sept. 13, NU offered the Take A Kid to the Game Day promotion again so fans could take advantage of the discounted ticket prices for the Sept. 20 contest against Ohio.
Saturday was also NU Faculty and Staff Day at Ryan Field, which brought the NU Community together for the game. As always, the day started with fans, cheerleaders, band and Willie lining Walker Way 2.5 hours before the game to greet the team as they arrived at the stadium. An hour later, 300 new NU students met the women's basketball team and the Ladycats on the north end of campus to walk together as a class to the first Wildcat Football game of their college careers.
Once the team arrived, fans headed to Wildcat Alley to enjoy interactive games, face painting, the AthletiCo Skill Zone, phone engraving by U.S. Cellular, photos with some of the Wildcats' Big Ten Championship trophies, Wildcat giveaways, chances to win prizes like Krakus Ham and popcorn compliments of U.S. Cellular, the Goose Island Beer Garden, Hecky's BBQ and much more. Wildcat Alley also featured special appearances by the Wildcat women's soccer team, Willie the Wildcat, the cheerleaders and the marching band.
Just outside of Wildcat Alley U.S. Cellular displayed the Express YourCELL interactive mobile tour that allowed fans to personalize their cell phones by creating ring tones and decorating their phones.
Winners from some of the Wildcat Alley activities included Goose Island Pub Trivia: Paige Feldman; and the AthletiCo Skill Zone winners: 40-Yard Dash (6 years and younger): Luke Stewart; ages 7-11: Andrew Roesch; ages 12-15: Jonathan Westerhausen; Shuttle Run (6 years and younger): Archer Newsome; ages 7-11: Andrew Rush; ages 12-15: Demetre Stavros; and Vertical Jump (6 years and younger): Dru Robinson; ages 7-11: Cameron Willie; ages 12-15: Devin Boehm and Max Sorby.
As Wildcat Alley was winding down, the gameday fun was still in full swing. Even though classes didn't start for two more days, over 3,000 students cheered on the 'Cats for the victory over Ohio. While the students counted down to kickoff in the stands, they were entertained with a video of former Wildcat standout Brett Basanez who is now with the Carolina Panthers. Basanez recorded this special message for the new NU students to fill them in on a few cheering traditions at Ryan Field. And it worked. The energy of the WildSide student section was contagious throughout the entire stadium thanks to all of the excited students.
Just before kickoff, members of the student theatre production, Waa-Mu (Julia Beck, R.B. Embleton, Kaitlin Fine, Ben Hoffman, Liz Olanoff, Lindsay Powell, Drew Principe, Cara Rifkin, Will Skrip and Eugenio Vargas), sang the National Anthem. Then, more students joined NU faculty and staff members on the field to be the honorary captains for the game. Sarah Mangelsdorf, the new Dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and Patrick Quinn, who recently retired after 30 years of building the University Archives were the faculty and staff honorary captains. Coach Fitzgerald randomly selected four NU students from all of the students who had attended both of the Wildcats' first two home games, including over 220 students who braved the rain during the Southern Illinois victory on September 13. Christina Cole, John Kinsella, Michael Szajewski and Andrew Thompson were the lucky students who walked out with C.J. Bacher, Brendan Smith, Eric Peterman and Prince Kwateng for the coin toss to start the game.
Another lucky Wildcat fan took the field during the game as the Wildcat Kids' Club Kickoff Kid. Eileen Kennedy was selected from all of the Wildcat Kids' Club members to run on the field to retrieve the Wildcats' tee on Saturday. Fans didn't need to be on the field to be part of the action. The first 10,000 fans into the game received the Wildcat Winning Offers Card, which gives fans a chance to win prizes throughout the every game this season. The prizes included an official 2008 Football Team photo, $5 off the Willie the Wildcat Create-A-Cat stuffed animal, a game ball autographed by Coach Fitzgerald and a dollar off concessions at Ryan Field.
Fans also can enter the season-long contest to win the Wildcat MVP Contest presented by U.S. Cellular. One lucky fan will be named the Wildcat MVP and will sit in the luxurious stadium club with three guests for U.S. Cellular Day against Illinois on November 22. The winner will have a VIP tour before the game, will be named the honorary captain, will receive Wildcat gear and more!
U.S Cellular will also be giving away a free cell phone at every home game. Another lucky seat promotion is the ESPN Zone Best Seat in the House where two fans are randomly selected to upgrade to the ESPN Zone Dream Seats recliners located in the Wildcat Den. Those winners also take home ESPN Zone prize packs worth more than $150. The winners at the September 20th game were Bob and Jim Minervino.
Fans didn't sit for long with the exciting game to stand up and cheer, as well as making noise for the free stuff the Wildcats were throwing out that day. The members of the Wildcat women's soccer team were the guest t-shirt slingers for the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hail Mary promotion. Inside every Vienna Beef shirt tossed by the soccer team was a coupon for free Vienna Beef hot dogs. That wasn't the only food being given away. Willie the Wildcat delivered Lou Malnati's pizza boxes to screaming fans in Section 115. Each box contained a t-shirt with one lucky box containing a $25 gift card for Lou Malanti's.
The crowd stayed on its feet for the Krakus Ham Cam, which featured the wildest fans on the video board during select timeouts. During halftime the Women's Soccer coaches competed against fans in the Chipotle Challenge on Walker Terrace. Any fan who beat the Women's Soccer coaches in a round of bags won a free Chipotle burrito coupon. Members of the men's basketball team were also at the game giving away free food. Jeff Ryan, Nick Fruendt and Matt Steger roamed the stadium last Saturday talking with fans and randomly selecting people to receive free food from the concession stands.
Former student-athletes were also at the game talking with fans, including NU great, Brian Musso. He was on Walker Terrace during halftime signing the free commemorative Wildcat Wide Receivers poster, as well as taking photos with fans next to the 1995 and 1996 Big Ten Championship trophies he helped the 'Cats win.
Current Wildcat standouts were honored during the second half, including Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Eric Jokisch from the NU Baseball team. Jokisch was also a Freshman All-American and a second-team All-Big Ten selection after posting an 8-2 record with a 4.17 ERA last season. The eight victories are the most ever by a Northwestern freshman and his seven conference wins are the most ever by a true freshman in Big Ten Conference history. As part of Faculty and Staff Day, academic services adviser, Betsi Burns, and assistant equipment room manager, Meli Resendiz were honored for their national awards for being the best in their respective fields.
After the game, the members of the Wildcat football team had their chance to show their appreciation for all of the fan support by singing the fight song near the WildSide student section immediately following the Wildcats' victory. Join in this Northwestern tradition after every NU victory at Ryan Field.
For more information on Wildcat Football gamedays, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets start as low as $25.
Click here to check out the fun had during the 2008 home opener against Syracuse!