Football fans and Eastern Washington University alumni gathered Sunday in downtown Spokane to celebrate one of their own rising to athletic stardom in Super Bowl LVI.
The EWU Alumni Association reserved about 50 tables at nYne on Sprague Avenue for current students, Cooper Kupp fans and alumni to enjoy an afternoon of family-friendly fun, said Kelsey Hatch-Brecek, EWU’s alumni relations director.
The party was to celebrate Cooper Kupp, an EWU alum who showed his talents at the school’s football program and now plays as wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams, Hatch-Brecek said. They gathered at the downtown Spokane club not knowing that, in less than four hours, Kupp would be named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“He was kind of overlooked at first,” she said. “He’s the guy that’s the first one to get there and the last one to leave. He’s a guy that did everything right.”
Cory Cleavenger, an EWU alum and lifelong Rams fan, said he attended to cheer on both his team and Kupp.
“It’s not very often you get to see someone who started their dynasty, so to speak, at the same school you went to,” Cleavenger said.
Cleavenger said he was able to attend EWU football games during Kupp’s time. Kupp always showed both athletic prowess and a refreshing humility, Cleavenger said.
EWU biology student Ryan Chapin said he does not follow football, but came to the party to support nYne and cheer on a fellow Eagle.
“I think it’s amazing,” Chapin said.
The afternoon included bingo with the chances to win prizes from the merchandise table, Hatch-Brecek said. Alumni members could buy specialized T-shirts, hats, towels and flags to support the association, she said.
EWU interim head volleyball coach Angela Spoja came to the party with her husband, saying she remembered the Kupp days at EWU when he was known around the school as a hard-working athlete and “just a really nice guy.”
“I think everyone feels so proud,” Spoja said.
Though held at a bar, Hatch-Brecek said the event welcomed families to take part in the bingo and watch the game. The alumni association often works with nYne to host events like this one, so preparing for special EWU decorations and reserving the bar was an easy task, she said.
“It’s so cool,” she said. “We really hit the ground running on this.”
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