Several years ago, a few dedicated students snuck in some simple wooden paddles into Lewis Field and started a tradition. Today, the tradition continues with almost 200 members and over 100 paddlers.
HOW WE JOINED
For the longest time, membership of the paddle people was an invite only ordeal. Eventually a Facebook group was started and only those who knew what they were looking for could join. Nowadays, things are a little more open and inviting. This year's group has the highest percentage of freshmen in years, maybe ever. Once in, dues are paid in order to obtain the materials to make the paddles and order car decals and T-shirts.
MAKING THE PADDLES
The first thing that happens prior to the season is making the paddles. They are made by hand by members of the Paddle People. One-by-fours are cut into a general shape using a stencil made from past paddles. The rough cuts are then sanded to remove any and all sharp edges so that they won't cut the pads or the handlers. Holes are drilled into the handle so they may be painted at the decal shop. While being painted at the shop, the decals that say "POKES" are also put on before being returned. The final step is buying all the baseball bat grip in town and putting it on all the paddles just before the first game.
PREPARING FOR GAMEDAY
In order to obtain the first row of the student section, the Paddle People have to camp out in Gundyville just like any other student. Camping starts 2 days before the game and 4 days for OU or Texas. Members sign up for shifts the Sunday before the game. These shift are around the clock, even overnight, until the morning of the game. Upon completion of the full camping time, all the tents get wristbands that allow them into the gates 30 minutes before the gates open to the rest of the students, even before The Walk. Once inside, we spread out and claim all the area we need. After the players come in and complete their prayer circle, the waiting game begins and occasionally we practice to make sure everyone is ready and on the same page.
After the pregame fanfare, Ready for War, and the rest of the pregame festivities, the rest is history for the Paddle People. We paddle on defense, after first downs, touchdowns, kickoffs, punt returns, and everything else we can. We're the darlings of the media and the face of the student section and we love every second of it. The only thing we love more is supporting the men and women that represent this fine university on the field of play, be it the football team, the band, or the women's soccer team. We love them all and are ultimately there for them. So join us every chance you can and be loud, be proud, and wear orange.