Fans pack Michigan Stadium for 'Go Blue in the Big House' pep rally
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University of Michigan freshman Audra Davidson will never forget her first time...walking on the field of Michigan Stadium that is.
“I’ve never been here before,” Davidson said just moments after walking on the field for the first time. “It’s so massive, I can just imagine how crazy it must be with all the people in it.”
Davidson was one of the more than 8,000 students that showed up for the “Go Blue in the Big House” pep rally and viewing party prior to the Michigan football game against Alabama Saturday night.
“This is the best idea ever,” said freshman Samantha DeGregory.
The Center for Campus Involvement planned the event as a way to end "Welcome Week" for students arriving on campus for classes, which start next week.
“We knew we had an opportunity to do something significant on this day,” said Nicholas Smith, assistant director for the CCI. “We wanted to provide an awesome experience for the students.”
The first 5,000 students through the door were given a voucher for a free hot dog, soda and chips. Various booths handed out free posters, T-shirts and other merchandise.
Students were also given the chance to have their picture taken on the block M at midfield or attempt a field goal from 35 yards out.
“The activities are pretty fun, being able to stand on the field and watch the game is pretty fun,” said sophomore Jacob Stanage. “It’s kinda cool to be where the players stand.”
“Its nice to have something to de here,” said senior Jessica Grden. “Especially for the students that couldn’t go to Dallas.”
Students were also able to use the brand new HAIL student loyalty program for attending the rally.
Dressed in a maize and blue wig, freshman Paul McPherson thought the event was a good option for students.
“It’s exciting, not all the students have their own TV,” McPherson said. “This is a really fun experience, you get meet some new people.”
Doors opened for the event at 6 p.m., but the actual rally didn’t start until 7 p.m. Numerous Olympians, fresh from competing in London, were introduced to the crowd. Members from the men’s basketball team spoke, with Jordan Morgan leading the crowd in a rendition of “Hail to the Victors.”
Once the game started a majority of the fans sat in the stands and ignored the activities on the field. However, when the game took a turn for the worse, fans started making their way to the exits.
“I’m just hoping this doesn’t lower the morale of the team,” Stanage said. “Getting beat this bad could carry over to the rest of the season. You lose a lot of momentum going into the rest of the season.”
While the game didn’t turn out the way fans wanted, the rally was a success with fans and with those who organized the rally.
“It’s not often that students get to be on the field. Having this being your first Michigan experience is pretty awesome.” Smith said. “We truly wanted to create a ‘wow’ welcome experience for Michigan students and hopefully we’ve done that today.”
Matt Durr covers sports for AnnArbor.com.