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Forks up! 942 Crew leads the cheers at ASU basketball

By - Dec 12, 2017

By Nicole Eldridge/For The Sporting Nation
Arizona State University's rise in the college basketball rankings means more exposure for the 942 Crew, the student fan section at Sun Devils games inside Wells Fargo Arena.
The Crew is all for students, by students. 
“I think it is nice (being an organization of all students.) The student section, we run it, so we can see from our perspective what works, what they like and what they don’t like,” crew member Wesley Nelson said.
 The 942 Crew was founded in 2012 by former Arizona State basketball coach Herb Sendek and the athletic department and it has been a contributor to the basketball game atmosphere ever since.
“It started a while back actually, it used to be a basketball only group. Herb Sendek, one of our old basketball coaches, and the athletic department came up with the idea to engage student attendance at basketball games,” social media marketing chairman Joey Palomarez said.
The meaning behind how the organization got its name is very interesting.
“There are 942 seats in the lower bowl (student) section of all the basketball games,” Palomarez said.
The main goal of the 942 Crew was to improve student attendance at basketball games, and they have done just that. The section isn't always full, especially when school is not in session, but with the Devils rolling to a No. 5 ranking, attendance is sure to climb when the Pac-12 season starts in late December.
“Our original purpose was to increase student attendance at games, but then each of us are a part of different committees that contribute to aspects of that so we have student involvement, game experience, community service, outreach ... but our main goal is to raise student attendance at games,” crew member Sammy Zecher said. 
One of the things that the 942 Crew is known for is the infamous “Curtain of Distraction” that is unveiled during most men’s basketball games played at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. 
The curtain was not always a part of the 942 Crew, but if it were not for the curtain, the organization may not be as well known as it is.
“I do remember that it came about a couple years into the crew. Somebody just kind of threw it out there as an idea and it stuck,” Palomarez said. 
The Curtain of Distraction happens during the second half of the game when the opposing team is shooting free throws on the east side of the stadium, where the students sit.
“I think that definitely in basketball you can see the impact we have. You can see when people look over in the corner of their eye, maybe if they are not the one that is shooting but another player that is looking over in the corner of their eye. So I do think we have an impact and that we are distracting them,” Zecher said.
Here is how it goes: the crew members will carry out two curtains that are connected to yellow poles and place them behind the basketball net. Once the player is about to shoot his free throw, the crew opens up the curtains and something different pops out every time to distract the player.
The preparation for the curtain is a yearlong process, coming up with ideas and plans.
“It is an ongoing thing all year. We plan, we practice them, we research different things, but on the day of we probably practice about an hour before (game time),” Zecher said.
The distractions range from people in costumes of unicorns, clowns, animal costumes, cheerleader costumes, a big horse head, and even Olympic gold swimmer Michael Phelps himself.
Michael Phelps appeared behind the current in January of 2016. He came out wearing his speedo, all of his Olympic medals, swim cap and goggles.
A lot of the members of the crew said that Phelps’s appearance was in their top favorites and the most popular with the fans.
Other famous celebrities that have been behind the curtain are actor and comedian Charlie Day, NFL star Terrell Suggs, Brody Stevens, and rapper YG.
A big name like Phelps was easy to get to participate because of his relationship with Arizona State and other celebrities usually reach out to 942 Crew itself and ask to participate.
“Michael Phelps was a little bit different because he is involved in the university (trains with swim coach Bob Bowman.) The other ones approached us as an opportunity. We don’t go looking for them, they just come to us,” Palomarez said.
No one ever knows what will pop out next from behind the curtain, but it is always a good laugh no matter what it is.
The Curtain of Distraction is known nationwide due to the fact that it was mentioned on outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today.
The people who go behind the curtain to perform the distraction skits are the students who are a part of the crew, but in times of need, they will seek out members of the student section to help out.
“It is mostly us, sometimes we will have to pick random people just because we run out of people but normally it is all of us,” Nelson said.
Arizona State is 9-0 and is the talk of the Valley of the Sun. Students have left campus for the holidays, but ASU could very be undefeated entering conference play.  
“I feel like our win streak will definitely bring more people in and we can kind of use that as a marketing technique like ‘Hey, your Sun Devil basketball team is ranked, so you should come out and support your team,’” crew member Diego Lopez said. “I feel like before earlier in the season was harder because we weren’t ranked and it was still early in the season.”
The 942 Crew is always very active on social media and has become very popular throughout the internet, racking up about 10.8 thousand followers, so far, on Twitter.
The members of the organization did not think they would be so popular and have such an impact on student attendance to games.
“Just seeing the way the executive board has grown from last year and the retention just from that aspect. I did not expect it to grow that much so I have very high hopes,” Zecher said.
They also see the organization itself becoming bigger and bigger.
“I definitely see it becoming bigger,” Nelson said. “Our sports teams are getting better, the basketball team is ranked and only going up from here. The football team is looking good with their new facility so more people will want to get involved.”
The group's Twitter page is always full of updates on the sports games, what color to wear to games, different graphics, and even arguments with other schools.
 One of the more recent “Twitter fights” the 942 Crew had was with Colorado.
The two Twitter pages were going back and forth with one another during a football game where the two schools were going head-to-head and the Sun Devils ended up winning the game 41-30.
The 942 Crew is also known for is its giveaways.
 For a lot of the sporting events, the crew will hand out free shirts, sweaters, towels, and other things to the students in the student sections to show their appreciation of their attendance and to keep them coming back.
The shirts that are handed out are designed by all of the crew members, not just one specific person.
 “We just do it as an executive board as a whole. We will discuss things; we have brainstormings of not just shirts but any giveaways like the Tupperware at the green games and stuff like that,” Zecher said.
Some of the crew members even participate in a T-shirt toss to the students during the times the game is not in play.
During the basketball game against San Francisco on Dec 2, the crew handed out ugly Christmas sweaters to get students in the spirit of the holiday season.
The sweaters were grey in color and had snow, reindeer, basketballs, Christmas trees and 942 Crew written on it in white and gold.
The free goodies are reasons why students attend the games, because it is an incentive to show up and to keep showing up.
For the 942, they are looking forward to the rest of the basketball season and what it holds in store for them as an organization and for the university and basketball team.
“Pac-12 basketball play is coming up and that will be big for us because we are looking really good this year,” Nelson said.


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