Click to read about the best places to eat on campus, freshman packing tips, and how to keep in touch with friends.

SoFlo Rodeo: The hypemen behind the Herd

South Florida’s student section has been gaining recognition nationwide after last week’s turnout against UCF. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Freshmen Jazmyn Myers, Luke Zimmer and Eli Hermann teamed up with USF Athletics to create an organization called SoFlo Rodeo, which focuses on raising more attendance in student sections at games.

Since their start in mid-November of last year, the trio has been able to attract hundreds of students to games.

The group hit an all-time high in attendance at men’s basketball’s recent win against UCF on Tuesday with over 1,000 participants in the student section.

Now, the organization is getting recognition at a national level. After the match with UCF, USF was ranked No. 13 by Big Game Boomer in best students sections of the week and has been receiving attention on Twitter and from Fox 13 News.

With all of the time that goes into preparing for game days, Myers said the feedback they’ve received this past week has been fulfilling.

“It just feels super rewarding because we’ve been doing this since before Thanksgiving,” Myers said.

“Putting in so many hours and planning on what exactly we envisioned and to see our vision come alive, especially in a crazy game like the UCF one, it’s cool to get recognized from other people because people didn’t know we were doing it behind the scenes until it launched.”

For these students, school spirit is everything. Seeing how dull the participation was at USF games is what sparked the inspiration to start SoFlo Rodeo.

Throughout their time in high school, all three members of the group were big advocates for their student sections back home. It came as a disappointment to Zimmer and when he realized South Florida’s student section was inactive.

“That was one of the things we saw a lot this year for the football games. People would go to UF or FSU for the football games, when you have your own football team here,” Zimmer said.

Hermann said the low attendance of certain games was a discouraging sign when compared to other programs.

“A lot of times back home I would go to a lot of University of Wisconsin games, and when you’re there it’s not a question to go to the football games,” Hermann said. “When I came here, I’d be asking people to go to football games. It’s a different culture where it’s not as enthusiastic.”

A main component lacking at the school was the engagement and participation at the games, which could lead to some disappointing consequences for the school, according to Zimmer.

“We love USF, we love the academics and the area but it’s missing that thing,” Zimmer said. “And to bring it here for students I think is going to bring a lot of light to the university as a whole. It makes it more appealing for a person who is looking for that type of thing.”

Myers said improving the student section would also help with morale at the university.

“It makes you have more pride for your school,” Myers said. “It makes you enjoy it. Obviously college is hard for a lot of people and so having something fun and exciting to look forward to makes it overall a better experience.”

Hermann played basketball for his high school, so he said he knows first hand how a high-spirited student section can change the trajectory of a game.

“It definitely helps the players on the court,” Hermann said. “Doing things like distracting the other team and helping our players can definitely be helpful. I know from my years of playing basketball, if you’re playing into loud student sections it can really get to your head. So that’s our goal is to give our team any advantage that we can.”

Although this has helped the athletes in becoming more confident in their performance with such massive turnouts, being a part of SoFlo Rodeo has also been a personal journey for the members and has helped them gain skills they wouldn’t find elsewhere at such a young age.

Starting an organization from the ground up with only two other partners to help has been a challenge for them and requires a lot of creativity, according to Hermann.

“The process has been like starting a business,” Hermann said. “We’ve had to have all the creativity and all the marketing launches, so it’s a great thing to put on your resume.”

With less than a year since its formation, SoFlo Rodeo has made stunning improvements to how the Bulls community is perceived at sporting events.

Zimmer said he hopes the work being done today will naturally integrate itself into the future of USF Athletics.

“It’s also a legacy thing. You only did so well if it continues after you’re gone,” Zimmer said. “That’s something we’re also looking forward to. Seeing how far we can push this.”