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Gonzaga students brave sloppy weather at ‘Tent City;’ excited for ‘insane’ atmosphere Saturday as top-ranked Zags take on Texas

UPDATED: Fri., Nov. 12, 2021

Gonzaga University students try to erect their tent during Friday’s downpour, getting ready for the GU Kennel Club Tent City event. Students camped out for the night prior to the top-ranked Zags playing No. 5 Texas on Saturday night.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Gonzaga University students try to erect their tent during Friday’s downpour, getting ready for the GU Kennel Club Tent City event. Students camped out for the night prior to the top-ranked Zags playing No. 5 Texas on Saturday night. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Rain and cold temperatures didn’t deter hundreds of Gonzaga University students from camping outside Friday night in the heart of campus in preparation for the men’s basketball team’s top-five matchup against Texas on Saturday at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

It was the Gonzaga Kennel Club’s first of four Tent City events of the season, in which students pitch a tent and spend the night outdoors prior to a Bulldogs basketball game in order to be first in line to the arena the next day.

Annie Cooper and Olivia Fichtner, both Gonzaga freshmen, said the sloppy weather wasn’t enough to cancel their plans to attend their first Tent City.

“We just brought extra blankets,” Cooper said.

Macy Ryan, Kennel Club president and a Gonzaga senior, said the cold, wet weather is typical for Tent City events.

“We normally don’t get very lucky with weather just ’cause the time of year that we do them,” she said.

Ryan said she loves everything about the tent atmosphere.

“It’s so fun,” she said. “The fact that kids are willing to come out in the rain to support this team, it’s kind of a big deal.”

Fichtner said they wanted to be as close to the court as they could be to cheer on the Zags Saturday night.

Fichtner, Cooper and their four tentmates will be the 35th tent group in line for the game. Students can house a maximum of six people per tent.

“I think it’s going to be crazy,” Fichtner said of the expected atmosphere inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.

The No. 1 Bulldogs will take on the fifth-ranked Texas Longhorns – the first top-five matchup in history at the arena.

Fichtner and Cooper said they dedicated the last week to the game by first buying tickets to the contest last Saturday, running to a location on campus Wednesday to secure a tent spot number, setting up a tent Friday and then hanging around the tent area all day.

“Everyone’s been prepping for it all week,” Cooper said.

A group of six senior engineering students also braved the harsh weather to camp out.

The six met in a Gonzaga dormitory their freshmen year, but most had never taken in the Tent City experience.

They wanted to give it a shot before they graduated.

Garret Duch said he participated his freshman year when there was snow on the ground and it was so cold the Kennel Club almost canceled the event.

“It was pretty chilly that year so, compared to that, this is like smooth sailing,” Duch said.

It was the first time for Duch’s friend, Kyle Nolan.

“I think after not having any basketball games in person for two-ish years, the energy tomorrow is going to be insane,” Nolan said of the game. “I’m very, very excited.”

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