‘Hoo runs the crew
University sports enthusiasts encourage team spirit
The night of every home basketball game, behind the large mass of orange tee-shirts, crazy wigs, and bright orange face- and body-paint, are a talented team of true fans.
‘Hoo Crew is a contracted independent organization founded in the fall of 2005, with a stated mission of enhancing the “game atmosphere at all home University athletics events, with an emphasis on Men’s Basketball,” according to its website. In short, the crew works to encourage students to attend athletic events.
Currently, the organization is spearheaded by fourth-year Commerce student Haider Arshad, along with vice president Stephen Farmer, a fourth-year Commerce student. The duo, faithful members of ‘Hoo Crew for more than three years, dedicate themselves to bringing students and athletes together, inviting students to look past the uniform backpacks and sweatpants to see the individuals.
“We want students to have a good athletics experience, and bridge the gap between students and athletes,” Farmer said. “Commonly people put athletes at a higher status, but the reality is they are just other students as well.”
Through the organization’s Facebook account, Twitter and email list, ‘Hoo Crew members organize several bonding events for athletes and students alike throughout athletic seasons. With activities ranging from trivia night with men’s basketball players Joe Harris and Justin Anderson to afternoon basketball with the team, the group gets students invested in their athletic teams.
“One of the reasons we are trying to do more events where students get to interact with athletes is the logic that if you have a friend that is an athlete you are definitely more inclined to go watch their game and go support them,” Farmer said. “That is our goal, to make students comfortable going out to support.”
Once they get students in the stadium, ‘Hoo Crew works to ignite students’ passion. From streamers to the infamous face cutouts, simple and goofy ideas result in a stadium packed with spirit.
“One of my overarching goals was to change the experience for men’s basketball games specifically and really turn John Paul Jones into a place that was tough to play [for visiting teams],” Arshad said. “Last year we did a wonderful job — the Hoos didn’t lose a single ACC game at home.”
Beyond basketball, ‘Hoo Crew holds several “Orange Passport” events that encourage attendance to non-revenue sports games. During Orange Passport games the coaches, players and ‘Hoo Crew all come together, giving out free T-shirts, pizza and drinks. Covering roughly two events for each sports team, this alliance gives recognition to many overlooked sports teams.
“There are a lot of good teams and it is unfair that just football and basketball get all the attention because they’re the money-making sports,” Farmer said. “All teams deserve support at their games and we are there to support everyone.”
Although anyone who signs up on the ‘Hoo Crew website is considered a member, a committee of roughly 30 to 35 students helps plan and brainstorm ways to improve game atmosphere.
“I like to say that every student is a member of ‘Hoo Crew,” Arshad said. “At the end of the day, we’re all students at U.Va. … I want people to have fun and enjoy the athletic experience, want to come back, and want to root on the ‘Hoos.”