When I was a kid, I first saw the Pit Crew in action under the old lights of McArthur Court. Looking down from the 300 levels was the rowdiest group of people I had ever seen. From my first game in 2002 players like Luke Jackson, Catherine Kraayeveld, Aaron Brooks, Maarty Leunen, Joevan Catron, and Ellyce Ironmonger became my favorites. I thought this was the best college basketball I had seen, until I was finally a Duck.
The venerable MacArthur Court
My first basketball game as a student was against Western Carolina. I sat in the Pit in the second or third row with a few friends that I dragged along. Matthew Knight Arena was much different than the intimacy of Mac Court, but it was incredible. I read my first Pit Crew Post and was hooked. The humor, rosters, chants, and photos made heckling the other team so easy. The big news for that game was that a WCU player attacked someone with brass knuckles. I’ll never forget the giant cardboard brass knuckles someone brought and shook behind the backboard. It was awesome. The rest of the season was filled with win streaks and a long losing streak. But, the best game was Arizona. The place was rocking. If we won that game, and beat the #3 team in the nation, we would go to the Big Dance. That’s what we did. There is a big difference between seeing a court storm and being in one. I squeezed between the media table and the courtside seats and packed in the center of the court with 400 other passionate students. I was shoved every which way yelling and not believing what had happened. Until a week ago, it was the greatest game I had been a part of in MKA. Great teams ended the rest of the season, but the legacy of that Arizona game made me excited for the next.
Ducks upset Wildcats! The video is fuzzy, but so was the moment.
The offseason took a turn that no one expected. The next team would be full of transfers, walk-ons, freshmen, and only three returning players. As the new school year started, and our football team won game after game, the beginning of basketball got lost. The women’s basketball team had a new coach and volleyball was nearing the end of its season.
Ducks stomp Stanford - 2015 (Cole Elsasser/Eugene Daily Emerald)
I was brought on as a member of the operations team in Pit Crew. Our job was to make games full and more fun for students. The men’s team was underestimated despite a second place finish in the Pac-12 standings and tournament. The women beat Stanford for the first time in a long time and we rushed the court (which was pretty much never done in WBB and received national attention). Both seasons were ended by some of the best teams in the country, but they were about rebuilding and I had so much hope for the next year. I knew something special was going to happen. That year I made some of my best friends as well. It’s hard to find people that have the same passion for sports, but in Pit Crew it wasn’t.
Oregon Volleyball beats USC (Ryan Kang/Eugene Daily Emerald)
In my junior year, I followed our volleyball team much more. The Pit grew more and more as the season went on beginning with a game filled with 1500 students. The excitement from Volleyball propelled into the MBB season. The fourth game of the season was a Top 25 matchup against Baylor. I helped redesign the Pit Crew Post (which was awesome considering it was one of my favorite parts of being in the Pit). Football continued on post Marcus Mariota. At the beginning of school year, a relationship grew between the Pit Crew and some basketball and volleyball players. They would come and cheer with us at other sporting events and support their fellow student athletes. I had never seen that in my first two years, but these student athletes proved that they wanted to be in Pit Crew too.
Behind the Backboard (Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian)
That season I made the transition from standing in the Pit to standing behind the backboard for every MBB game. I would watch some incredible basketball in the same seat all season. The Pit would be my home for WBB and Volleyball, but there was something special behind the backboard. We were closer to the opposing team and could get in their head more easily. We could see baseline drives, back corner threes, and thunderous dunks that animated the arena. I traveled to more away games (I ended up being unlucky for all of them) and went to my first NCAA Tournament games. The women’s basketball team shocked the Pac-12 that year. Jillian Alleyne broke record after record and the team made it to the Final Four in the WNIT despite late injuries. But even with deep runs in their tournaments, the seasons ended and we were left with even more hope for the next year. Except for me, next year meant the last.
The Pit Crew - SCO DUCKS! (Michael Arellano/Eugene Daily Emerald)
This past summer I was named the President of Pit Crew. It’s pretty special to be the first female President, but I couldn’t do anything without my Vice Presidents: Isaiah, Ryan, and Andrew. These three guys know how far we’ve come in Pit Crew and continue to work hard to become better. We came into this year wanting to leave a legacy behind. The goal was to get students to games and make the Pit “lit.” So far this year we made two hand-made banners, sold out student tickets in seven games (including five straight), created an atmosphere so ridiculous it delayed the game (sorry Coach Altman), and finally filled the entire Pit with students for a WBB game. From the first volleyball scrimmage to these last few weekends in the Pit, this year has been the most fun I have had. Last weeks Arizona game was the best I have seen in MKA. The passion and atmosphere that the Pit Crew brought is exactly why I joined three years ago. I’m so incredibly proud of what we have done and excited to see where it goes.
Thank you to the Oregon Athletic Department, Nike, Oregon Volleyball, Women’s Basketball, and Men’s Basketball for making the last four years exceptionally special for me in Matthew Knight Arena. It has been like my second home.
Forever and always, Go Ducks.