About 1,200 students turned out for Students’ Association’s first tailgate Saturday afternoon before the football team’s first home game of the season.
In an attempt to cultivate more school spirit, SA started the tailgate at 3 p.m. and continued up to the game’s kickoff at 6 p.m.
Lee De Leon, director of athletics, said a tailgate is the perfect solution to grow game-day attendance.
“Tailgating is a big part of the pageantry of college football and is an important component of the overall atmosphere of a game day,” De Leon said. “We want to encourage as much tailgating as possible at Shotwell to add to the buzz and excitement around ACU football home games. We want to see students and fans come out to Shotwell to have a great time with other Wildcat fans, whether they love football or not. I thought the tailgate this weekend was a he success. More people attended than I expected.”
To show his support student attendance at tailgates and home games, De Leon said he would “paint up” and join Wildcat Reign in the student’s section of the stands at tomorrow’s game against Stephen F. Austin.
Student groups, clubs and businesses from Abilene came out for the event and helped make it such a success.
Students were found eating, visiting, playing games and enjoying the pre-game atmosphere.
Rachel Lopez De Castilla, a senior psychology major from San Antonio, made it to the event and reflected on her experience at the tailgate.
“I really enjoyed walking around visiting with my friends,” Lopez De Castilla said. “It got all the students excited, and it was awesome seeing everyone wearing so much purple.
Many of the men’s social clubs brought grills out to the stadium, with the men of Galaxy even grilling their specialty jalapeno poppers. Other foods served to the public included hamburgers and hotdogs, sausage-on-a-stick and chips.
Students could enjoy different tailgate games including Cornhole. Also, Texas Roadhouse had a station where students attempted to throw a football through a target for a bag of peanuts and a free appetizer coupon.
Tomorrow, football will face off with Steven F. Austin University in Shotwell Stadium at 11 a.m., and the tailgate will start around 9 a.m.
Beau Carter, executive president of Students’ Association, is already planning ways to improve the event.
“While it seems a little too early, we have a few ideas that will make sure students will be there,” said Carter, a senior political science major from Farmers Brach. “Ultimately, we believe that if we continue to press for this to become a tradition, it could drastically improve the spirit and vibrancy of the community here at ACU. We in SA are excited to see how it all plays out.”