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Cobber Nation pumps it up

Everyone’s seen Cobber Nation on game day: bare chests painted, circling the field with their flags at every touchdown, or shouting cheers about lutefisk and lefse. They may seem silly or, on particularly cold days, out of their minds, but Cobber Nation is determined to go out of their way to make sure everyone enjoys the games.

“We definitely stick to the motto of MIAC: Be loud, be proud, be positive,” junior Cobber Nation member Blaine Mullican said. “That’s pretty important to us.”

Cobber Nation president Anders Meier said that, while the group may be known for their presence at football games, Cobber Nation aims to support all Concordia sports.

“We just want to instill a sense of love for Cobber athletics,” he said. “Originally Cobber Nation started just for football, and then the founders thought about the name: It’s not called ‘Football Nation’, it’s called Cobber Nation.”

According to Meier, the group of Cobber super-fans started in 2004, when several enthusiastic floormates decided to paint their faces and cheer for the football team from the front of the stands. Today, the group incorporates members from all walks of life on campus. Meier said that getting to know people from different social circles is one of the best parts of being in Cobber Nation.

“We really formed our own family,” he said.

Junior member Bruno Surdo agrees. He said that Cobber Nation members’ common love of sports gives the group a unique bond.

“I think we’re all here for the same purpose of trying to cheer on our athletic teams,” Surdo said.

The group meets on game days at the house of a Cobber Nation member to grill food and paint their chests before heading over to the Jake to begin warming up the fans. When it is time for the game to begin, Cobber Nation says the Lord’s Prayer in the end zone before leading the team onto the field.

In addition to helping the cheer and dance teams lead spectators in support of the team, Cobber Nation has its own set of antics to inspire enthusiasm in the crowd. For each touchdown, they run around the field with a set of Concordia flags and do one pushup for each point that Concordia has scored. At the end of each game, the group joins the Cobber Athletic Band in singing the Hymn of Concordia.

“It all kind of ties into the wackiness of a cheer section for a college,” Surdo said.
In order to join Cobber Nation, new members must show their dedication to the Cobber sports through what Meier calls “a random act of school spirit.”

For his initiation, Meier said he and several other students cheered on random people around campus: janitors cleaning windows, students working out in Olson Forum, people in the library. They even tried to get into Anderson Commons to show their cobber spirit.

“They didn’t let us in because we didn’t have shirts on,” he said, “but we stood by the ticket counter and cheered on people.”

This year, however, the initiation process fell by the wayside as Cobber Nation struggled to recruit and maintain consistent members.

“We really haven’t been able to get a set group of people together this year, which is hard,” Surdo said.

Mullican said that part of the problem is that Concordia freshmen don’t know much about Cobber Nation when they arrive in the fall.

“The struggle, I think, with any sort of group on campus is that you have to get underclassmen involved,” he said. “Otherwise, your group isn’t…going to do very well.”

But Meier suspects that people are also becoming disenchanted with Cobber Nation.

“I think people are getting sick of us to be honest with you,” he said. “They think we’re just a bunch of fools and they kind of take us for granted.”

According the Meier, Cobber Nation suffered some scathing criticism on Facebook after missing one home game this year. However, he feels that the Concordia community could help Cobber Nation make it to games in the future by being supportive of the group.

“If they really cared that much, they could join or they could spread the word,” he said.

Another hurdle to recruiting new members may be that Cobber Nation is not an official student organization. While they used to be supported by the office of Alumni Relations, recent budget cuts have left them to fend for themselves.
However, Meier believes that this only adds to the integrity of the group.

“We take pride in that we’re not a school function, we’re just a bunch of volunteer guys who do it just for the love of it,” he said.

While football season is almost over, Meier said that the team hopes to support other school events, athletic or otherwise, throughout the school year.

“We’re willing to do more than football,” he said.

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