When I first game to Oklahoma State, besides starting a new chapter in my life in college, I was most excited about going to Cowboy home games. I looked forward to Saturdays in Boone Pickens Stadium, winter days in Gallagher-Iba Arena, and beautiful spring days at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. My dad is an Oklahoma State alum, he told me some of his best memories in Stillwater were in Gallagher-Iba Arena. He told me vivid stories of how loud and rowdy it was, how great the teams of the early 90’s were, and how at times you could not even hear yourself think. I looked forward to that same experience.
However, when I went to games in GIA as a freshman last year, the atmosphere was quite the opposite. Outside of games against Oklahoma and Kansas, the arena would be half full on a good day. The student sections would have maybe a hundred students, and crowds of barely 4,000 on a Saturday afternoon. The “rowdy” that I heard so much about was nowhere to be found.
When Brad Underwood was hired, his main goal was to get the Rowdy back into GIA. Revitalizing a basketball program that has been down for the past couple years is no small task, especially with a fan base that has not fully supported the program in years. So far, it has slowly been coming back. After a fast start to the year, Gallagher-Iba was sold out for the first conference game against West Virginia. All 13,611 orange seats were filled that day. Despite the shellacking that took place on the court, the crowd was coming back, and backing the basketball program.
After a six game losing streak, I had no idea if anyone would start showing up again, yet Gallagher-Iba is still getting great crowds. The game against Arkansas was sold out, 13,611 yet again. On Wednesday night against #6 Baylor, I had no clue what to expect. It was a weeknight, against a tough team, I didn’t know what the crowd would be like. Gallagher-Iba was about 2/3 full, and rocking most of the game. Baylor had a 14 points lead with around a minute left, I started looking around to see if the Cowboy faithful would start heading towards the parking lot. Boy, was I wrong.
When both teams came out of the timeout...the GIAnt was awoken.
*(WARNING: VERY LOUD)*
I could not hear myself think, I lost my voice, and I was in love with this team and that arena. It was an incredible atmosphere, I have never experienced anything like it before. I am hoping that this was the beginning of something special in GIA.
13,611. I want to see that many people every game, so does this team, and that is what Coach Underwood wants.
"That was the loudest I've heard it. Our fans are great. I can't say thank you enough to them. They impact the game so much. It's what makes this place so special. They were running over because they couldn't hear. It's truly awesome."
It is truly amazing what can happen when people come and cheer on this team.
Even opponents are beginning to realize the difference a rowdy GIA can make.
Johnathan Motley on GIA's atmosphere: "It was loud. Crazy loud. You couldn't hear anything at the end."— Oklahoma State (@TheOkiePokie) February 9, 2017
Gallagher-Iba Arena is a special place, it truly is one of the best home-courts in college basketball. If we as fans want this team to rise to prominence nationally once again, then we need 13,611 people in those orange seats for every home game.