Sun Devil football fans take the field at gameday viewing

November 13, 2020

Sun Devil football fans may not have been in the stands, but they were out on their own fields to cheer on the team from afar. For the fall 2020 football season opener, played Nov. 7., ASU students ignited the Inferno and celebrated school spirit while keeping each other safe.

A capacity gathering of 100 students participated in the gameday viewing event at ASU’s Tempe campus. The Intramural field at the Sun Devil Fitness and Wellness complex was the setting as students masked up and enjoyed the game from screens within viewing “pods” where four friends could gather together. Free Chick-Fil-A, pom poms, Inferno Insiders masks, a student DJ and Sparky himself made for a festive environment to watch the Sun Devils face the USC Trojans on two big screens Saturday morning. 

Sparky social distances with Sun Devil Football friends

Sparky catches up with fellow Sun Devils while social distancing.

Shresta Chemarla, a senior finance major, is the director of spirit, pride and tradition for Undergraduate Student Government in Tempe. After planning Devilpalooza last year, she helped lead planning for this season’s gameday experiences. She said USG's role in the events is to help provide innovative ways to create an engaging gameday while adhering to public safety recommendations.

“Even though this is an atypical year, we should still celebrate Sun Devil football to the best of our abilities,” she said. “It’s hard always being stuck in our rooms, so getting some fresh air and spending game day with your fellow Sun Devils is a great way to get engaged and feel that ASU pride!” 

Small gatherings to watch the Pac-12 game on Fox were also convened outdoors on the Lantana Hall Lawn at ASU’s Polytechnic campus, in the SDFW Quad at ASU’s West campus, and at the SDFW at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. Community assistants and student organizations also organized small game viewing events in residence hall community rooms, the Memorial Union and the Student Pavilion. For every football game this season, there will be safe viewing opportunities for students on every ASU campus. Find the most up-to-date information on the Inferno website. 

Connor McKee, a senior studying business data analytics with a minor in music and a certificate in sports business, helped plan and staff the Tempe gameday event. He is the co-leader of 942 Crew, a student organization that encourages school spirit and support of the student section at athletics events at ASU. 

He was inspired to join 942 Crew to get involved as an out-of-state student from Colorado. He has many fond memories of the student section in his time at ASU, including all the “Go Devils” chants and when he performed the national anthem at a basketball game in 2018. He hopes students see that the gameday experiences this fall are a great chance to celebrate and make connections.

“ASU is an incredible place to go to school since the number of unique perspectives is so massive,” he said. “For first-year students, this also was the first athletic event of the school year, which means the first of your Sun Devil journey,” said McKee. 

He added that these events are a great way to learn about the student organizations that can help you get involved in something you are passionate about.

Ryan Sisk, a senior studying electrical engineering, is the director of gameday operations for ASU’s Programming and Activities Board. In this role Sisk and his team lead logistics, entertainment and planning for events and activities such as gameday, Fork ‘Em Friday and other activities. 

Sisk got involved with PAB so he could have an outlet other than his engineering extracurriculars. 

“I'm so glad I joined, and have met so many amazing people along the way,” he said.

This year has been a lot different in terms of ASU programming, so Sisk said the team with PAB has been challenged to innovate with nontraditional events including an Esports tournament. 

He wasn’t able to attend the first event because he had to be at lab testing for his senior capstone, but he’s looking forward to being at the rest of the gameday viewings and encourages all Sun Devils to join. 

“Come to be able to interact with the Sun Devil community in person,” he said. “It will be super exciting to come and see everyone (from a safe distance).  

Though USC narrowly prevailed in the first game of the season, 28-27, there’s still plenty of time to cheer on the Sun Devils at their upcoming games on Nov. 21, Nov. 28, Dec. 5 and Dec. 11. (The Nov. 14 game was cancelled.)

For her part, Chemarla looks forward to keeping football traditions alive. She loves seeing Sun Devils in gold, especially on gamedays and on Fridays. 

“There’s nothing that reminds me of the spirit shared amongst students than seeing a sea of gold,” she said. “I’m hoping to see all of the students attending the viewing party to be decked out in gold, because, despite COVID, no one can stop our Sun Devil pride!”