By Camille Rasor | Arts & Life Editor
There’s nothing quite like a Baylor football game at McLane Stadium. Watching the Baylor Line rush across the field before kickoff, singing “That Good Old Baylor Line” and throwing up countless sic ‘ems all adds to the game day experience. However, perhaps what gets the fans pumped up the most is the blaring music coming from the Jumbotron throughout the game.
Though there are fewer home games this year due to COVID-19-related game delays and cancellations, the team involved in creating that game-day atmosphere has been working hard to make the few remaining games at McLane as exciting as possible.
“It’s my goal is to hopefully have the team jumping after every kickoff and have the student section all jumping in motion,” said Derek Westbrook, the athletics department’s associate director of fan engagement and one of the people in charge of the music selection at football games.
Eduardo Cavazos, the head stand leader in the Baylor Chamber of Commerce, is one of the Chamber members in the green jerseys who lead the student section in chants and help to bring up the energy in the Line section. He said part of what keeps the students engaged is the music from the loud speakers.
“I clearly remember a specific instance in which specifically the Baylor Line gets really excited, which is usually every kickoff whether it’s Baylor kicking it off, or the other team kicking it off,” Cavazos said. “They use music that has a big beat-drop when the kickoff happens, and all the student section gets really, really hyped for it.”
However, Westbrook said the music choices are not just for the fans. He said that before each game, he meets with the head of athletic performance, Corey Campbell, to talk with him about what songs the players themselves would enjoy.
“We talk frequently about pregame music and playing what the guys want to hear and making sure that they’re getting as pumped up for the game as possible,” Westbrook said.
Some of the music choices aren’t just to hype up the crowd, but sometimes they aim to make the crowd laugh. For instance, it’s not uncommon at a Baylor home game to hear Selena Gomez’s song “Hands to Myself” after the referees call a holding penalty on the opposing team.
“I want things that you’re going to remember and give you like a little bit of a laugh,” Westbrook said. “I try and be witty with it but ultimately it’s just about what song fits the moment, being prepared, having hundreds of songs on this computer that may never get used. But there might be the one time that I use it at one game three years from now and I’m like, ‘Man, I’m glad I had that.’”
True to Baylor’s reputation as a Christian university, there are several songs that Westbrook and his colleagues choose not to play at football games. He said this is out of respect for Baylor’s mission as well as keeping the Baylor home game environment family friendly.
“At the end of the day, I don’t want to play things that are degrading the women or just have foul language or talk about drugs and alcohol,” Westbrook said. “So ultimately what’s going to represent our university in the best light? Just because we do have such a wide variety of people in our stadiums, you want to make sure that you’re representing the university in the best way possible.”
Though the pandemic has affected a lot about the game day experience, Cavazos said that despite the limited availability of tickets to game day, the student section was just as rowdy at the last home game as he noticed in years past. Part of this is due to the work that Westbrook and other employees in the office of fan engagement do to keep the Baylor spirit alive.
“It definitely felt like it was another football game which was really really cool,” Cavazos said. “The only thing that I did feel was that the freshmen didn’t really know the chants and that was because they didn’t really do Line Camp when [freshmen usually learn] those chants. Definitely like the first quarter, it was kind of like teaching them … And then they kind of took it away from us, and it was just fun. It was a great environment for sure.”