Blog: The Barnyard Travels to Evanston

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Normally, I work as a communications student assistant at Golden Gopher home games. But for the second year in a row, I traveled with almost 100 other students on a Barnyard Road Trip for a Gopher away game. This year's destination was Evanston, Ill., for the Gophers' Feb. 18 tilt against Northwestern. The annual excursion was sponsored by the Golden Dunkers and the College Licensing Company. The Barnyard Board and Gopher marketing department planned the trip.

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On Saturday morning, we could check in at the Williams Arena lobby starting at 6:00. Our game tickets, trip t-shirts, and itinerary sheets were ready for us when we arrived. Our two buses' departure from the Barn -- which was scheduled for 7 a.m. -- was delayed by about 20 minutes while we waited for one straggler who had accidentally overslept.  To her credit, she was really hustling carrying all her gear.
Go Gophers! bus
Go Gophers!
The bus leaves the Barn on Saturday morning.
Go Gophers!

The bus ride was pretty quiet at first while some people tried to go back to sleep. Around 11:15, we got off of I-94 for a bit to grab lunch at a mall in Madison. It was fun walking around Badger country with all our Gopher gear on. We watched "Happy Gilmore" for the next stretch of the bus ride. I used the bus's wireless Internet to check on early college basketball games as well as the Gopher baseball team's tournament.

When we finally got off the freeway, we drove through some business and residential areas to get to our hotel in Evanston. We discovered that no one's keycards worked, so the nice people at the front desk reprogrammed them for us. Then my roommates and I watched -- what else -- more basketball before leaving for our own game.

On the way to Welsh-Ryan Arena, people on my bus started an impromptu rendition of the "Rouser" and then "Gametime" by Mac Irv (former Gopher player Lawrence McKenzie), the song played before Gopher home games. We arrived at the home of the Wildcats about an hour before the 6:00 game. It was cool to see the football stadium -- Ryan Field -- before going into the gym.

This was my first time in Welsh-Ryan. It is a pretty small arena. To get to our upper-level seats, we almost had to go outside -- the stairway was kind of separate from the concourse and we had to go through a door to get to it. We found our spots in the wooden bleachers and got ready to cheer on our Gophers.
Go Gophers! Barnyard
Go Gophers!
The Barnyard waits for the action to start.
Go Gophers!

When the team came back out on the court for more warm-ups, we cheered and sang the "Rouser." The team definitely noticed us--I could see Andre Hollins smiling his signature smile at us. Northwestern's student section -- the Wildside -- looked up at us, too. The Wildside's seats are located behind both baskets. We were in the upper corner by the Gophers' bench.

We stayed loud and stood throughout the game. We tried to pump up the Gophers' defense and encourage the offense. (We also like to believe that our noise was the reason behind any missed Wildcat free throws.) Some sweet dunks and Julian Welch's five three-pointers got us extra loud.

Unfortunately, it was a rough game for the Gophers. Our yelling could only do so much to disrupt the Wildcats' offense, and Northwestern ended up with a win. But even when it got to the point where we knew the loss was coming, our group -- though
outnumbered--was as good as or better than the Wildside. After the buzzer sounded, we stayed in our seats for one more "Rouser" and even an off-key singing of our alma mater. Despite the loss, "to thy colors true we shall ever be." 

Following the game, most of us found something to eat, and many decided to explore Evanston. I was really tired from waking up at 5 a.m., so I decided to stay in after dinner, watch the end of the Michigan-Ohio State game, and go to bed.

The next morning as I was walking down the street to church, I heard some people who were out walking their dog having a conversation about the Wildcats-Gophers game. After I got back and we loaded our stuff on the bus, my co-worker/trip roommate (Kelly Kleine) and I took a walk of our own around our hotel's neighborhood. Evanston is a cool area, and it was nice to move around a bit before the ride home.

We again stopped in Madison for lunch, at the same mall. Kelly and I could not resist going to Culver's. A post-lunch viewing of "Dodgeball" made the trip seem to speed up for a while, but when the movie ended, most of us were anxious to be home. It was a fun trip -- well worth the $35 and 14 or so hours on a bus -- but it was nice to get back to the good old Barn.

Thanks again to our sponsors, planners, bus drivers, and everyone else who made the trip possible. Hats off to thee.

--Justine Buerkle, Athletic Communications Student Assistant

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3 Comments

We were there too as we live in Chicagoland!! It was nothing short of AMAZING to have so many Gopher fans in attendance!! Many thanks to the Barnyard for the cheers and Rouser!! You all represented the U of M very well!! Always GOPHER PROUD!!

Jodi and Mike Dickman
'86 and '87

I also traveled down to the game from MN and it was a pleasant surprise to see the barnyard there and hear the cheers, you definitely stood out the whole game and it was great. Way to represent!! Hope to see the barnyard make the trip again next year, hopefully we'll see a victory! Ski-U-Mah, friends!

This is a fun idea by the marketing department! It's great to get students involved in the activities, especially ones that aren't in the immediate area. I bet it helped boost attendance at the next game.