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Bear Pit grows in 2nd year

Nov. 1, 2006

By ALLIE COOK
Reporters

Started in 2005 as an effort to rally support for the men's basketball team, the Bear Pit's goal is to "enhance the atmosphere of the games and to pump up both the fans and the players," said Luke Baker, a Littleton, Colo., senior and Bear Pit president.

Baker said the group had about 500 students sign up last year. However, since there was no way to enforce an attendance policy, there were never that many people at the games.

This year, after five days of recruiting at the Ferrell Special Events Center and two days in the Bill Daniel Student Center, Baker said 575 people have signed up.

Students will be able to sign up from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Friday, Nov. 10 in the SUB and will also be able to sign up at the season opener.

Baker said the idea for the organization began with student body President Mark Laymon.

"My roommate, Mark Laymon, was running for student body president, and one of his platforms was better seating at basketball games," Baker said.

After he was elected, Baker said Laymon appointed him to help accomplish this goal.

"I met with head Coach Scott Drew, and we decided to start a student organization," Baker said. "We came up with the idea of giving out the black and gold jerseys and went from there."

Robinson junior Brad Bowles described the various activities Bear Pit members engage in to cheer on the men's team and said joining the Bear Pit is the "thing to do" this basketball season.

"We show up two to three hours before the game. A lot of the games this year we're going to tailgate before the game -- just hang out, eat food, stuff like that," Baker said.

Members have adopted different ways to show their school spirit by doing things such as wearing yellow wigs to the games.

Once the doors open, about an hour and a half before the game, the Bear Pit gets down to business.

"We'll all go in. We'll get good seats. We'll cheer on the players during their warm-ups," Baker said. "Basically, we just pack out the floor seats for the games and be really loud."

Joining the Bear Pit includes many perks, Baker said. Along with the signature black and gold jersey, members get free pizza an hour before the game, a Red Jak energy drink at half-time and an identification card to get into the games.

The pizza and ID card were added as benefits this year. The Bear Pit ID card will also give members discounts to various fast food venues and the Baylor Bookstore.

"Last year was the first year, so people didn't really know about it," Bowles said. "Now that everyone has seen it's a success, a lot of people are really interested in it."

Baker said attendance is expected to be high this year.

"Looks like we could get up to about 1,000 people by the time conference play rolls around," Baker said. "Ideally, we're hoping to get more and more seats along the floor as the bear pit grows bigger each year."

Bowles also said this year's freshman class has added a lot of members to last year's numbers.

"The fresman class ... they're really into school spirit," Bowles said. "So there are a whole lot of freshmen signing up."

Atlanta, Ga., freshman Sarah Bliss said she joined the Bear Pit because she loves basketball and wanted to cheer on the men's team.

"It just looked like a neat way to get involved," Bliss said. "It's kind of like the Baylor Line, but for basketball."

Bliss said she found out about the Bear Pit when it was promoted at a pep rally during Welcome Week. Last year's members jumped around on stage and showed the spirit of the Pit in order to encourage freshmen to be involved.

"It looked like fun, with all the students there close to the excitment (and) the players," Bliss said.

Students can sign up to become a part of the Bear Pit for the next two weeks in the Bill Daniel Student Center. A tailgate is scheduled for the first homegame against Angelo State University on Nov. 11.

Lizza Lopez and Christine Tamer contributed to this story.

Joining the Bear Pit is "the thing to do" during the 2006-2007 basketball season, Robinson junior Brad Bowles said.