Inlander contributors and Gonzaga seniors Franny Wright and Jenna Mulligan will be taking you inside the Kennel Club, the Zags' renowned student section, in this occasional series to give you some insight as to what makes these kids amongst the rowdiest in all of college hoops.
At 6:15 pm, almost two hours before Gonzaga and Washington State tipped off, a line of GU students had already formed in a snaking curve around the backside of the Spokane Arena. On this Wednesday before finals week, the Zags put down their books and flocked — on foot and in shuttles — to fill the student section for this rivalry game that had been moved to the much bigger Spokane Arena. Different court; same urgency.
The student section filled hurriedly in an arena that was otherwise empty. To the students, it’s never just about being present — it’s about being as close to the court as possible. They peeled off jackets, revealing a sea of red and a hodgepodge of costumes, and then settled in to wait for the buzzer to sound. The moment the Zombie Nation began to play over the loud speaker, those individual faces would become one cohesive voice in the energy of the Kennel Club, leading Gonzaga on to a 81-66 win over WSU
on a night when the team captain, Kevin Pangos, didn't even score, but three other players all went for 20 or more points.
Here's what some students had to say.
Kacie Waagbo, freshman
I got here 72 minutes before the game, and we sprinted in because we knew we’d have to rush to get a good seat. I wanted to go to a school where basketball was big, and, well, ninth in the nation is good enough for me.
Hayden Nelson, sophomore
It’s been pretty live here in the arena tonight. WSU is always a really huge game, so it’s just cool to be here, feel the energy, and make it crazy. I dressed up because it’s Christmas, everyone likes power rangers, and … well it’s America so you kind of do what you want.
Sean Dorsey, freshman
I’m the Pope. I’m just trying to bring out my personal Jesuit as a Gonzaga student. Why not embrace it? I may wear it again, but the Pope likes to pick and choose where he’s seen. Being in the Kennel and having this experience is a huge part of Gonzaga. It really just makes you feel like a part of the school and community.
Marie Marshall, senior
I’m a ghost, because BOO WAZZU! I make a different costume every year. I was a cow once with a sign that said “Waz-Moo-Who?”
Brandon Pitzer, senior
This place is huge ... I’ve got 900 of my best friends here, cheering for the same thing. That’s why I love this.