Before I came to cheer for UCSB, I heard stories about how cheering fans used to pack the Thunderdome for basketball games. I’m not sure how true that really is, but I do know ESPN did not name the Events Center the Thunderdome for nothing. They claimed the roaring inside sounded like thunder, hence the name.
So here’s why you should come out to the games: home-court advantage!

With the Gaucho Locos and UCSB Pep Band going nuts supporting our team and booing the others, it must be hard to be a visitor here – but there is always room for more Gaucho supporters. I say the more the merrier at the games. Visitors are supposed to feel intimidated by both our team and our supporters.

When the Locos and band give it their all, it’s pretty awesome, and you can see the frustration on other team’s faces. Let’s have some school pride! Let’s go out there with our Gaucho colors and our homemade megaphones, and show those opponents whose house they’re playing at. We have to make other teams come to Santa Barbara and earn their wins; no one here is going to let outsiders walk all over us.

It’s not like the games cost too much. I know we’re all poor, starving college students, but come on. Basketball games can actually solve that. In fact, all games are free with a student ACCESS Card. I have a great idea for a lot of you romantic guys: Take a date to a game. What better way to spend time with your lover than to immerse yourself in crowds of crazy fans cheering on their favorite basketball team? The game is free, and who knows, if the Gauchos score, you might also.

If you do want to impress your date and purchase something, buy her a $4 hotdog, or go crazy at the game and you’ll have the opportunity to score an entire large pizza from Domino’s for free. But seriously, there is lots of excitement to be had. Games are only two hours, a small chunk of the week to donate to your school. Why watch reruns of things you’ve already seen? And don’t give me that “I’m studying” bullshit either because I know not all of you study 24 hours a day. When I walk by the 24-hour study lounge in the library, it is never full. Well, then again, it isn’t Finals Week yet, but who are you kidding? You know you aren’t going to start studying on a Friday night at 7 p.m.

So where are all of you? It isn’t hard to put off drinking for two small hours, especially to come support UCSB athletics. Coming to the game might actually help pass the time until the party. Why not celebrate a Gaucho victory with a nice cold one after?

Now that I mention it, basketball is not the only sport here in need of support! If you look at the UCSB NCAA teams in 2004 alone, you will be overwhelmed by their success. Men’s soccer is ranked first in the nation and has just clinched its third Big West title in four years. Women’s soccer went to the Big West Championship game, and women’s volleyball is ranked #18 in the country and first in the Big West.

The women’s basketball team made it to the Sweet 16 last year. At the first game of the season, the stands were barely filled, mostly with parents and local Gaucho supporters. Last year, when our team played here for the prospect of making the Sweet 16, the Gaucho Locos, fans and Fantom finally decided to show up. Now that we know our girls can make it far into postseason play, let’s not wait to hop on to the bandwagon and instead begin supporting them from the very first tipoff. Don’t wait until the end of the regular season to see all the excitement that comes with UCSB men’s and women’s basketball. If nothing else, I know the athletes have friends too, so come out and support your friends – if you need a friend to come support at the game, you can come be mine.

Lisa Marie Val Verde is a sophomore mathematics major and a UCSB cheerleader.