It’s that time of the year again for USD football fans when smoke rises from grills in the parking lot and yells of encouragement can be heard at cornhole games taking place outside of trucks flying USD flags.
As the Coyotes prepare to take on Weber State in the DakotaDome on Saturday for the first home game of the 2016 season, game-day organizers are looking to bolster the team with fan support and a D1 tailgating experience.
“We want as many students there as possible,” said Joe Thuente, USD director of marketing and promotions. “The students are the backbone of the atmosphere.”
Getting the students to attend is rarely a problem with perhaps the largest organized student event of the year before the game, the tailgate.
Tailgating before the games has been growing in both quality and quantity, according to Kevin Wagner, the president of the inner fraternity council.
“The tailgate has become increasingly popular every year with more and more people coming to it while we are always adding more things to it every year as well,” Wagner said.
With the tailgate being a widely-marketed event across campus, there are also incentives for the students to attend it and stay to support the team for the following game. With food being provided and games such as beanbag toss and tetherball being offered, the tailgates are becoming some of the biggest events of the year.
With most of the fraternities often having their own sections, there is always somewhere for students to enjoy the tailgate.
“We are hoping for a great turnout again this year and invite everyone down to the tailgate to enjoy the fun with us,” Wagner said. “We are definitely hoping for a great season and looking forward to being a big factor in the student presence for our home games.”
While pre-game and the game itself are big events for Greek Life, there are many off-the-field events that occur for the athletics as well.
Many fraternities and sororities have team-sponsored events and hold other occasions, such as dinners and socials, with them.
“It is a great way for us to build relationships with our student athletes and come together to represent a large part of USD,” Wagner said.
Thuente said there will be USD can koozies given away to the first 500 people attending the game and the first 1,000 students will receive a full-size USD flag.
“There is a giveaway at every game this year and they come from the Fan Participation Committee, which is set by the President (James Abbott),” Thuente said. “He gave us those resources to make all of this happen.”