SPOKANE, Wash. — During a normal NCAA basketball tournament, Gonzaga students wouldn’t hesitate to travel and cheer on the Zags. Although tickets weren’t made available through the university, some of them are making it happen this year.
Gonzaga University senior Bella Hirardo and junior Macy Ryan both hold leadership positions on the Kennel Club and made the journey all the way to Indianapolis for the first and second round. They lost their voices while cheering during the first game of the tournament when Gonzaga beat Norfolk State 98 to 55.
“It didn’t matter that it was a blow out we were still so excited,” the girls shared through smiling faces.
“A lot of people have Gonzaga in their bracket so we can always get a, 'Go Zags,' back. We even got a thumbs up from a BYU fan,” Ryan said.
The NCAA Tournament stadiums are currently hosting 25% capacity at games. This includes all participants, essential staff and family members of each participating team’s student-athletes and coaches, and a reduced number of fans.
Both Ryan and Hirardo say the energy doesn’t compare to the Kennel or a regular season game, but they are doing their best to keep the energy up. They also said the stadiums have many practices in place to keep people safe, including seats that are duct-taped off and ushers who ensure that people wear masks.
“It’s still pretty loud in there. They have some rowdy fans from other schools that go to the games even if they aren’t Zag fans,” Hirardo said.
The girls say they haven’t seen any other Gonzaga students in Indianapolis, so they are cheering for the entire Kennel student section back in Spokane. Macy Ryan is getting a lot of attention from fellow Zags fans who love her Mark Few shirt.
“I am super excited that I got to come especially since it is my senior year because I don’t know how many more games I will be able to go to,” Hirardo said.
Even though they only stayed in Indianapolis for the first and second round, they say the experience means the world to them.
“I have been looking forward to this ever since fans were allowed back in the stadiums," Ryan said.